By: Tara Thompson
On December 31st Rogan released a podcast filled with Covid-19 misinformation. Most of this was due to his guest, Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist, who expressed many false beliefs including his claim that the efficiency of vaccines is due to “mass formation psychosis.” Over 270 doctors sent an open letter to Spotify over the episode asking for it to be taken down, claiming the Joe Rogan Experience is a “menace to public health.”
A letter stated, “By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and show doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals.” Spotify decided not to take any action against Rogan due to the fact Spotify’s content policy regarding Covid-19 will only take action against creators if they fall into two categories: the content either has to state the pandemic is a hoax or has to be encouraging the audience to get indicted deliberately.
Shortly after this controversy, another controversy arose. A video came out with a compilation of clips with Rogen using racial slurs during his podcast, the video immediately went viral. Rogan, of course, uploaded a five-minute-long apology video on Instagram stating it was a “video made of clips taken out of context of me from 12 years of my podcast… There is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word. Never mind publicly on a podcast.” Rogan also decidedly downplayed the incident saying the whole story wasn’t ‘racist’ but an “idiotic thing to do.”
On February 7th, Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek apologized to the workers as the comments were hurtful but ultimately decided not to de-platform him, “I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer. We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling videos is a slippery slope,” he said.
Since Spotify didn’t do anything to take action, other users of the site did. On January 24th, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell threatened to pull their music from the platform if Spotify didn’t remove Rogan’s podcast. Young accused Rogan of spreading misinformation about the Covid vaccines, “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” Spotify quickly expressed their apologies over Young’s decision and “hoped to welcome him back soon.”
Rogan has over eleven million listeners to his podcast, that’s eleven million people he’s spreading lies to, as a content creator you should be able to use your platform for good, not pushing your beliefs onto them especially considering most of his listeners are probably very young and impressionable.