NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – Hundreds of scientists, professors, doctors, nurses and other public health professionals have urged Spotify to crack down on misinformation about Covid-19 on its streaming platform.
In an open letter published online this week, the experts singled out an episode of podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” that featured Dr Robert Malone, an infectious disease researcher who claims to have created the mRNA technology used in some coronavirus vaccines but has become an outspoken vaccine sceptic.
They said Mr Rogan had a “concerning history” of advancing inaccurate claims on his podcast, particularly about the pandemic.
“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the letter said.
It also called on the company “to immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform”.
Spotify declined to comment on the record. The company has said that it prohibits dangerous, false or deceptive content about Covid-19 that may cause offline harm or pose a threat to public health.
According to the letter, Dr Malone promoted “several falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines” on the Dec 31 episode of Mr Rogan’s show, including a widely discredited theory that societal leaders have “hypnotised” millions of people.
PolitiFact reported earlier this month that Dr Malone was banned from Twitter for violating the company’s misinformation policy against Covid-19 and that YouTube removed videos of an interview he did with Mr Rogan.
Mr Rogan’s show is effectively a series of wandering conversations on topics including but not limited to comedy, cage-fighting, psychedelics, quantum mechanics and criticism of the political left.
The show was licensed to Spotify in 2020 in a deal estimated to be worth US$100 million (S$134 million).
Last spring, Mr Rogan drew the ire of the Biden administration and Britain’s Prince Harry, another Spotify podcaster, for comments undermining the value of vaccinations for young, healthy people.
As at Friday (Jan 14) evening, the episode of the show featuring Dr Malone was still available to stream on Spotify.