Rebecca Caraway is a journalism junior and Mustang News opinion columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
On Dec. 31, 2021, The Joe Rogan Experience podcast put out their 1,757th episode which featured Dr. Robert Malone. 270 medical professionals expressed concerns that the episode was “promoting baseless conspiracy theories” surrounding COVID-19.
In an open letter to spotify, hundreds of medical professionals demanded for the removal of The Joe Rogan Experience.
Should Spotify listen to them?
“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,” the letter stated.
The letter argues that because the podcast has an average of 11 million listeners, Spotify has a responsibility to stop this massive spread of misinformation.
After the open letter was published, musician Neil Young decided to pull his music from Spotify’s platform. A few days later, Joni Mitchelle announced she would be doing the same.
“Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue,” Mitchelle wrote on her website.
Let’s say Spotify listens to these artists and removes the most listened to podcast in the United States. Rogan will just take his 11 million listeners somewhere else. Removing his voice from one platform will give another platform a chance to scoop him up. At this point Rogan could create his own platform and his dedicated listeners would probably follow.
Removing a voice from a platform does not delete the voice. President Donald Trump has been banned or suspended from nearly all major social media platforms, but that has not diminished his influence. Trump is now coming out with his own social media app: “Truth Social”. Those who still support the former president will likely follow him to this app and anything else he may do. Rogan could do the same thing.
If The Joe Rogan Experience is removed from Spotify, his listeners aren’t going to change their minds about vaccines. If anything, they will double down. People who are already suspicious of the vaccine aren’t going to change their minds because Spotify removes Rogan’s podcast and Spotify knows this.
From Spotify’s perspective, removing The Joe Rogan Experience would be a terrible business move. The Joe Rogan Experience has 11 million listeners. As of Feb. 20th, Niel Young has 4,267,876 listeners, according to his Spotify profile, and Joni Mitchell has 2,073,353 monthly listeners. Take a look at those numbers. If it’s between them and Rogan, who do you think Spotify is going to choose?
And why shouldn’t they choose Rogan? Spotify is first and foremost a business. They aren’t a news site or a scholarly web page. Is it really their job to fact-check? If Kanye West sings about how Hillary Clinton eats babies and Donald Trump is going to save America, is it Spotify’s job to fact-check his song?
I’m not saying I agree with Rogan –– I don’t even like him or his show. However, I can recognize that Spotify is a business, not a fact-checker. Spotify spent $100 million on Rogan; they are going to let him say whatever he wants, and I don’t blame them.
Spotify has its fair share of problems, like not paying artists enough for their work, but this is one issue we shouldn’t blame Spotify for. Facebook and Instagram have chosen to notify their users if a post they are viewing has false information, but those pop-ups aren’t changing anyone’s mind. It’s all just for show— so Instagram and Facebook can say they’re doing something. It doesn’t matter what Instagram, Facebook, Rogan or Spotify say –– at the end of the day, people are going to believe what they want.