Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told employees on Wednesday that the streaming platform has no editorial discretion over the Joe Rogan Experience. His remarks come amid an ongoing campaign to deplatform the popular podcaster over “misinformation.”
Spotify employees have previously attempted to censor the popular podcast after taking offence to comments Rogan made about transgender athletes in women’s sports.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday that Ek told employees that the company has no say over Rogan’s guest list and that it can only take action against the podcaster after the episodes are uploaded.
The report points out that critics claim Rogan has spread coronavirus misinformation, although it, like many other reports on the controversy, failed to highlight or identify, what, if any, episodes have spread misinformation. Furthermore, most of Rogan’s detractors have not provided any specific examples of the podcaster’s alleged wrongdoings.
The article, which was co-written by Matt Pearce and Wendy Lee, appears to have been sourced by Spotify employees eager to cast the company in a negative light in order to pressure it into censoring Rogan. It says in part:
At the employee town hall, both Ek and chief content and advertising business officer Dawn Ostroff “repeatedly used the phrase ‘if we were a publisher,’ very strongly implying we are not a publisher, so we don’t have editorial responsibility” for Rogan’s show, said a second Spotify employee who listened to the remarks — and who, like some Spotify employees listening, found the executives’ position “a dubious assertion at best.”
In a chat linked to the town hall livestream, “A large portion of the angry comments were about how Spotify’s exclusive with Rogan means it’s more than just a regular platform,” said one employee.
In an earnings call, Ek appeared to take a slightly stronger stance against the left-wing media backlash.
“We don’t change our policies based on one creator, nor do we change that based on any media cycle or calls from anyone else,” Ek said. “Our policies have been carefully written with the input from numbers of internal and external experts in this space, and I do believe they’re right for our platform.”
“Usually when we have controversies in the past, those are measured in months, not days,” he added. “But I feel good about where we are in relation to that and top-line trends look healthy still.”
The company announced on Sunday that it was publishing its content policy, and that it will create a coronavirus information hub, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“We have had rules in place for many years but admittedly, we haven’t been transparent around the policies that guide our content more broadly. This, in turn, led to questions around their application to serious issues including COVID-19,” CEO Daniel Ek wrote on Sunday in a public letter.
“Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time. These issues are incredibly complex,” he said.