Spotify has faced calls for weeks to take action against Joe Rogan after accusations of promoting Covid-19 misinformation on his podcast, including hosting a guest banned from Twitter for spreading false information about Covid-19 vaccines.
While Spotify declined to take action against Joe Rogan, it is committed to putting advisory warnings on podcast episodes about Covid-19. In this slogging thread, we discuss Joe Rogan's case and misinformation online.
This Slogging thread by Mónica Freitas, Linh Smooke, Sara Pinto, Jack Boreham and Abeer occurred in slogging's official #podcasts channel, and has been edited for readability.
Spotify’s Joe Rogan Problem Isn’t Going Away
"The audio giant has faced calls for weeks to take action against Joe Rogan, the mega-popular podcast host, after Mr. Rogan was accused of promoting Covid-19 misinformation on his show, including hosting a guest who had been barred by Twitter for spreading false information about Covid-19 vaccines. This month, a group of hundreds of medical experts urged Spotify to crack down on Covid-19 misinformation, saying Mr. Rogan had a “concerning history” of promoting falsehoods about the virus."
"Daniel Ek, Spotify’s chief executive, published the requisite blog post on Sunday, defending the company’s commitment to free expression and saying that “it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor.” And while Spotify declined to take action against Mr. Rogan, it committed to putting advisory warnings on podcast episodes about Covid-19, and directing listeners to a hub filled with authoritative health information."
How do you think this situation will turn out? And how should platforms handle the spread of misinformation and freedom of speech?
(reacting so i will come back to this and offer a more thoughtful answer after this meeting!)
Mónica Freitas, that's one of those sensitive topics that have to be approached with cautiousness. There's a thin line between spreading misinformation and freedom of speech, and I can see how this can become prejudicial. However, companies mostly want to make profits, so turning down a client because he talks about what he wishes in his podcast is a questionable choice. I get that this podcast may influence a lot of people, but if Spotify were to take him down, that would open start a lot of issues.
Sara Pinto, it's a tough subject indeed. One of the main backlash brought by Rogan's podcast is that many musicians are now trying to get their art removed from Spotify. This will also make the company lose money. So on that side, there's no way they can get out unscathed.
Sara Pinto, as for the spread of misinformation, it does worry me that such a big platform has no guidelines for it. I'd expect there to be some footnotes on how you transmit information to such a wide audience.
And even though a podcast isn't necessarily a synonym of a reliable source of information, listeners are generally trusting of what they hear... So I get how this podcast got so many people believing misconceptions...
It's a dangerous thing.
In my opinion, I don't think there is a problem here. Freedom of speech is imperative for a fully functioning democracy. The reason why his show is so popular is that he invites people who have vastly different opinions and dissects their arguments. At the end of the day, it's all about personal judgement. If people want to believe what ex person said, then that's their problem. We live in a world where there is enough news out there for people to make informed decisions. No one should ever get their info from one place. Thus, in my view, this is just another case of people wanting to silence speech. It's stupid and makes the problem worse.
Mónica Freitas, seems like Spotify will end up losing money no matter the situation. I can see why the musicians are taking a stand, but what they are asking from the app...
Mónica Freitas, I see, but where do you draw the line between "someone is spreading information" and "someone is giving their opinion even if wrong"? We can't forget that every fact nowadays is questionable, and rightfully so. As Jack Boreham said, we should get info from more than one source, and it's we should question what we heard. It is dangerous, but it all comes down to everyone's own way of judging.
Jack Boreham, that's very true. However, now there's a different dynamic with artists wanting their music removed from the platform. This puts a different pressure on Spotify. From what I've managed to find out, Spotify won't back down. Could this be the start of a crisis for the company or simply an episode that will soon fade away?
Sara Pinto, it's a tough spot to be in, no doubt. Spotify has to choose between its values and profits.
Sara Pinto, could it be that we're cuddling people when it comes to information?
Mónica Freitas, I can see Spotify taking a financial hit from this decision but I don’t think it’ll be big enough to make them change their mind. I’ve watched some episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience and I’ve enjoyed them even when I didn’t agree at all with what they were saying. Joe Rogan is a great interviewer that actually listens to his guests and interviews a diverse group of people. I’m sure that’s why a lot of people like him and trust his judgement. I think the root of the issue is regarding education and critical thinking. In my opinion, the majority of the public just echo what they hear from sources they like without scrutinizing it first.
Abeer, that's true. I've never heard his podcast. What would say are the main topics he brings up for discussion? Also, why do you think the public has such a hard time sorting through the different sources of information? Are we just lazy when it comes to checking the facts?
Mónica Freitas, I can see it fading away! I don't think it's worth the fight, to be honest. It will cost the artists far too much to remove their songs.
Jack Boreham, that's true, and it will be a short-lived scandal, minding that only a couple of artists have asked to remove their music from the platform. I'd be worried if there were masses of people canceling their subscriptions, but as it is...
Mónica Freitas, maybe! I think we, as a community, should promote checking sources and info.
Sara Pinto, how much is it our job to incentivize people to check sources? Shouldn't it be an individual journey?
Mónica Freitas, yes, it should be individual work, and I'm not trying to say there should be someone doing the work for others. But we still live in society, so I can't help but think that we should promote these activities. I think many people are naive, and we all know there's no better asset than being informed.
Sara Pinto, could it be that we, as a society, are too gullible? That we believe each other first before questioning sources, beliefs and other aspects that might be influencing our judgment? There's a sense of security to be able to simply trust another human...maybe that's why we fall so much into misinformation. Food for thought.
Mónica Freitas, we can't forget that a few years ago there were fewer sources, so even if we worried about the credibility, there wasn't much we could do. And I think that leads to the fact that we don't do it as much now.
Sara Pinto, that's true too. I guess we're just lazy when it comes to information.
Mónica Freitas, he loves talking about working out, weed, and DMT. He likes to bring it back to topics he’s interested in as it makes it easier for him to be enthusiastic about it. He’ll also bring up recent events and news (or sometimes some personal stories) as a way to stir the conversation.
As for the public being unable to sort through different sources of information, honestly, I don’t know. Maybe it really is laziness and no one wants to do the due diligence of fact-checking everything they hear. Or maybe it’s just too difficult of a barrier to figure out how to properly fact check things especially since there are so many BS sites online. I had to explain to my parents just yesterday that just because someone wrote something on a website that has “health” in the domain name doesn’t make it a fact. What I’m pretty sure of is that to some extent Confirmation Bias is at play which leads me to believe that some or maybe even many of the people who were “misinformed” by Joe Rogan would have probably taken those same stances regardless of whether or not they heard it on the Joe Rogan Experience.
Abeer, that seems interesting.
I agree with you on that, I think the misinformed people would still fall into those same beliefs even if there was no Rogan. It's a sociological thing that I can't quite explain. Whether lazy, gullible or uninterested, those that don't work to check the facts, won't probably do it in the future.