In an Open Letter to Spotify, a large number of scientists, doctors, and nurses have called on the streaming service to implement a better misinformation policy.
The letter called out one show in particular: the Joe Rogan Experience. They state that this Spotify-exclusive podcast has repeatedly spread misleading and false claims throughout the pandemic including discouraging vaccination in young people and children, incorrectly claiming that mRNA vaccines are “gene therapy”, promoting off-label use of a drug called Ivermectin to treat COVID-19, and spreading a variety of other baseless conspiracy theories.
The final straw, however, was a highly controversial episode that aired on December 31 which featured Dr. Robert Malone. Malone has been banned on Twitter for violating the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy, had a YouTube video removed due to misinformation, and falsely spreads the claim that he is the “inventor” of mRNA vaccines.
“We are a coalition of scientists, medical professionals, professors, and science communicators spanning a wide range of fields such as microbiology, immunology, epidemiology, and neuroscience, and we are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform. With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy”
Specifically, the letter draws attention to the fact that the average JRE listener is 24 years old and according to data collected from Washington State, unvaccinated 12-34 year olds are 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than those who are fully vaccinated.
“As scientists, we face backlash and resistance as the public grows to distrust our research and expertise. As educators and science communicators, we are tasked with repairing the public’s damaged understanding of science and medicine. As physicians, we bear the arduous weight of a pandemic that has stretched our medical systems to their limits and only stands to be exacerbated by the anti-vaccination sentiment woven into this and other episodes of Rogan’s podcast.”
No exact goals were laid out in the open letter to Spotify, instead, it simply called for Spotify to have some sort of clear and public policy to moderate misinformation, something which is completely absent on the platform.
Featured image: Spotify via spotify.com