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Joe Rogan pledges to ‘balance’ Spotify podcast after Covid misinformation controversy

It comes after the company’s CEO said a content advisory on podcasts discussing Covid will be rolled out in the coming days.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Jan 31st 2022, 11:25 AM

PODCAST HOST JOE Rogan has said he will try to “balance out” the opinions expressed on his show following controversy around it spreading misinformation about Covid-19.

In a video posted to Instagram, Rogan said he supported plans by the streaming giant Spotify – which hosts The Joe Rogan Experience podcast – to add content advisories to episodes that discuss Covid.

Responding to claims he has spread dangerous misinformation about the virus, the podcaster said he was “interested in having conversations with people that have differing opinions” and was not focused on “only talking to people that have one perspective”.

He apologised if he offended anyone and added that he “was not trying to promote misinformation” and said he would “try harder to get people with differing opinions” immediately after those with controversial opinions who appear.

“So my pledge to you so that I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspectives so we can maybe find a better point of view,” he said.

I don’t want to just show the contrary opinion to what the narrative is. I want to show all kinds of opinions so that we can all figure out what’s going on and not just about Covid, but about everything about health, about fitness, wellness, the state of the world itself.

His pledge comes after Spotify boss Daniel Ek issued a statement on Sunday to say the platform is working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about Covid-19.

This followed a number of high-profile figures raising concerns over Rogan’s show appearing on the streaming platform.

Artists, including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, last week demanded that Spotify remove their music or drop podcaster Joe Rogan after a call from medical professionals to prevent Rogan from promoting “several falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also flagged concerns over misinformation on Spotify, but reiterated their commitment to continue using it to publish their content.

Content advisory

“We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about Covid-19,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a statement.

“This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated Covid-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources.”

In addition, Ek said the company would publish its “Platform Rules”, which include guidelines for creators on what Spotify labels “dangerous” and “deceptive” content.

The “new effort to combat misinformation” would roll out in the next few days, he added.

Rogan, 54, has discouraged vaccination in young people and promoted the off-label use of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to treat the virus.

The podcaster, who has a $100 million (€90 million) multi-year exclusive deal with Spotify, was kept on, and the company complied with Young’s demand and started removing his catalogue of songs.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, meanwhile, said they were “committed to continuing” their lucrative content deal despite “concerns” over misinformation.

“We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis,” a spokesperson for Archewell, the Duke and Duchess’ organisation, said in a statement.

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“We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does.”

‘Regret’

Spotify voiced “regret” over Young’s move but cited a need to balance “both safety for listeners and freedom for creators”.

Spotify’s move drew applause online from organisations including video-streaming platform Rumble, which credited the Swedish company with “defending creators” and standing “up for free speech”.

But Young, 76, also garnered wide praise for taking a stand, including from the World Health Organization chief.

The musician also urged fellow artists to follow his lead, and calls for boycotts and cancelled subscriptions flourished on social media.

In recent years, online media titans including Facebook and YouTube have come under fire for allowing conspiracy theorists to spread their views.

But despite its explosive growth, podcasting has largely flown under the radar.

With reporting from © AFP 2022 

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