If you spot a blue banner on an episode of your podcast on Spotify, you’re not alone. The company has begun rolling out its COVID-19 information advisories at scale after initially publishing them early in February. The notices come after a boatload of controversy capsized across social media in response to guests featured on the Spotify-exclusiveThe Joe Rogan Experience.
The advisories don’t indicate whether a particular episode of a podcast may be spreading misinformation. Instead, they simply indicate whether an episode talks about COVID-19 in any significant capacity. This includes when prominent doctors are guests on the show, episodes are dedicated to breaking the virus down, or when COVID-19 is discussed in regards to its affects on the economy The banners include links to the CDC as well as episodes of other podcasts available on Spotify.
“On Jan. 30, 2022, Spotify announced plans to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19,” a Spotify spokesperson told members of the media. “Three days later, on Feb. 2, we launched the content advisory on our platform and we’ve been adding it to episodes that include discussion about COVID-19 on a rolling basis ever since. Today, the COVID content advisory appears on ~1.4 million podcast episodes on our platform.”
The decision to add these banners came after 270 physicians and scientists published an open letter demanding Spotify institute new misinformation policies in light of the success of recent controversial episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcasts were published. Around the same time, artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell began removing their music from the platform in protest, to which CEO Daniel Ek responded by promising better transparency with their content guidelines, while also refusing to become a “content censor.”
To our very core, we believe that listening is everything. Pick almost any issue and you will find people and opinions on either side of it. Personally, there are plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly. We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users. In that role, it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.
While it’s not clear whether these advisories will be the answer many critics of Spotify are looking for, it’ll at least provide an easier process for listeners to explore what information is available.