Several days after Neil Young and Joni Mitchell removed their music from Spotify to protest the music platform continued support of controversial podcaster Joe Rogan, the company responded to their unfolding crisis on Sunday night.
“We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users,” the CEO, Daniel Ek, who is also one of Spotify’s founders, wrote in a public letter. “In that role, it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”
According to the New York Times, “Ek made no specific mention of Rogan, who has drawn complaints for his interviews with vaccine skeptics. This month, a group of more than 200 professors and public health officials called on Spotify to remove a recent episode featuring Dr. Robert Malone, an infectious-disease expert, that included ‘several falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines,’ according to the experts’ letter.”
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In his letter, Ek said that, “You’ve had a lot of questions over the last few days about our platform policies and the lines we have drawn between what is acceptable and what is not. We have had rules in place for many years but admittedly, we haven’t been transparent around the policies that guide our content more broadly. This, in turn, led to questions around their application to serious issues including Covid-19.”
He noted that, “Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time. These issues are incredibly complex. We’ve heard you—especially those from the medical and scientific communities…”
Ek said Spotify was taking the following steps.
Publishing Platform Rules
“Today we are publishing our long-standing Platform Rules. These policies were developed by our internal team in concert with a number of outside experts and are updated regularly to reflect the changing safety landscape.
“These are rules of the road to guide all of our creators—from those we work with exclusively to those whose work is shared across multiple platforms. You can now find them on our newsroom, and they’ll live permanently on the main Spotify website. They are being localized into various languages to help our users understand how Spotify assesses all content on our platform.”
Adding Content Advisory To Podcast
“We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19. 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.
“This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days. To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.
“We will also begin testing ways to highlight our Platform Rules in our creator and publisher tools to raise awareness around what’s acceptable and help creators understand their accountability for the content they post on our platform. This is in addition to the terms that creators and publishers agree to governing their use of our services.”
‘Committed To Learning, Growing and Evolving’
Ek said that, “I trust our policies, the research and expertise that inform their development, and our aspiration to apply them in a way that allows for broad debate and discussion, within the lines. We take this seriously and will continue to partner with experts and invest heavily in our platform functionality and product capabilities for the benefit of creators and listeners alike.
“That doesn’t mean that we always get it right, but we are committed to learning, growing and evolving.”
Advice For Business Leaders
- Don’t wait to tell your side of a crisis situation,
- Explain what you are doing about the situation and why you are doing it.
- Manage expectations about the success of your efforts to address the crisis.