Spotify to put content warnings on podcasts that discuss COVID-19 as people continue to cancel subs over Joe Rogan

Joe Rogan
Joe Rogan (Image credit: The Joe Rogan Experience)

What you need to know

  • Spotify is to add content warnings to podcasts that discuss COVID-19.
  • Pressure on Spotify continues amid concerns over the content of a Joe Rogan podcast.
  • Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have spoken out about anti-vax sentiment on Rogan's podcast.

Music and podcast streamer Spotify continues to try to deal with the fallout of concerns raised about a Joe Rogan podcast and its content — said to be pushing COVID-19 anti-vax theories to its listeners. Now, Spotify says that it will be adding content warnings to all podcasts that discuss the pandemic.

In a press release over the weekend, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced the move that he hopes will halt a stream of people seemingly canceling their subscriptions over the situation. We've already seen Neil Young remove his songs from the platform and Joni Mitchell has requested the same.

According to Ek, Spotify will now add content warnings to podcasts that talk about COVID-19 to allow people to decide whether they want to listen. The warning will also link people out to Spotify's COVID-19 hub, the release also notes.

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.

Spotify will also publish a list of rules that it says have been long-standing, but so far have not been publicly visible.

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.

Whether this will be enough to get Neil Young and Joni Mitchell back onto Spotify remains to be seen, but Spotify had to be seen to do something — and ditching Joe Rogan was never going to be an option given the amount of money that has been sunk into that particular deal.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.