Spotify under fire amid silence on ‘misinformation’ from podcast star Joe Rogan

The experts called on the audio-media giant to address misinformation on its platform

Graig Graziosi
Monday 17 January 2022 22:24
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After a group of 270 medical experts sent a letter to Spotify asking them to curb the coronavirus vaccine misinformation they claim is being shared on Joe Rogan's podcast, the audio media giant has still not responded to their concerns.

The group of advocates, professors, scientists and medical professionals sent a signed open letter to Spotify asking that it takes "action against mass-misinformation events" shared on its platform, specifically on The Joe Rogan Experience, which is one of its most listened-to properties.

The letter came as a response to a "highly controversial episode" featuring Dr Robert Malone, who claims to be the inventor of mRNA vaccines and who has found popularity among anti-vaccine audiences for his criticism of the inoculations.

Dr Malone's claim that he invented mRNA vaccines is contested, as while he did participate in early mRNA vaccine work, numerous other researchers and scientists have also worked on and contributed to the field.

During his appearance on Mr Rogan's show, he said it was "nucking futs" for people that have had Covid-19 to get vaccinated, and claimed that the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) that collects data about vaccine side effects, showed an "explosion of vaccine-associated deaths."

That claim is incorrect and presents a misleading idea of how VAERS works. VAERS is a self-reported, unverified platform for reporting adverse health events. The purpose is to allow researchers from around the country to see how other individuals are reacting to a vaccine, with the idea that consistent reports of issues could indicate an area that needs more investigation by researchers.

However, because the platform is unverified and also self-reported, it does not provide an accurate sample of how most people are reacting to the vaccine. Anyone can report to VAERS, and the CDC includes a disclaimer on its website to communicate that fact.

“The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable,” the disclaimer says.

Since the controversy over the episode kicked off, Spotify has not issued a statement acknowledging the concerns outlined in the letter.

The letter in part said: "The episode has been criticized for promoting baseless conspiracy theories and the JRE has a concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals.

"JRE #1757 is not the only transgression to occur on the Spotify platform, but a relevant example of the platform’s failure to mitigate the damage it is causing."

Spotify paid Mr Rogan $100m for exclusive hosting rights to his podcast.

The Independent has asked Spotify for comment.

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