COVID-19 Misinformation: Science Podcaster Calls Spotify’s Support of Joe Rogan a ‘Slap in the Face’

Science

The executive producer and host of Gimlet Media’s Science Vs podcast said she would devote her fact-checking show exclusively to contradicting misinformation on other podcasts carried by parent company Spotify.

The announcement by Wendy Zukerman builds on protests by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and others against Spotify’s Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. They say Spotify is not doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.

Zukerman posted a copy of an email she sent to Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, in which she said she considered the platform’s support of Rogan a “slap in the face,” after she spent months encouraging her listeners to move to the service because of its support for her fact-based science podcast.

Spotify acquired Gimlet Media in 2019.

Zukerman wrote that Rogan’s interview with Dr Robert Malone, an infectious disease specialist who has become well-known among anti-vaccine Americans, took vaccine information “repeatedly out of context” and lacked scientific evidence that contradicts his claims – a topic a forthcoming Science Vs episode will address.

She said that Spotify’s platform rules do not go far enough to address the problem.

“Until Spotify implements stronger methods to prevent the spread of misinformation on the platform, we will no longer be making new Science Vs episodes, except those intended to contradict misinformation being spread on Spotify,” Zukerman wrote in an email to Ek that she posted on Twitter.

Rogan’s interview with Malone prompted a protest by rock star Neil Young, who said he did not want his music on a platform that promoted “false information about vaccines.”

He added, “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” Folk music star Joni Mitchell removed her music to support Young.

Rogan apologised in an Instagram video post on Sunday and pledged more balance on his show. Spotify said it would add a content advisory to any episode with discussion of COVID.

Reuters could not immediately reach Gimlet or Spotify for comment. Zukerman’s post appeared on her verified Twitter account.

Spotify acquired Gimlet as part of an investment in its podcast business, an expansion of audio content that was underscored with its subsequent deal in 2020 to bring Rogan exclusively to the platform in a reported $100 million (roughly Rs. 750 crore) deal.


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