Spotify adds promised COVID-19 content advisory (updated)

The section comes after Spotify drew fire over misinformation from Joe Rogan's podcast.

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UKRAINE - 2022/02/05: In this photo illustration, a Spotify logo is seen on a computer screen and a hand holding a medical syringe in front of it. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Spotify has finally acted on its promise to add a COVID-19 content advisory label. As CNBC reports (and Engadget can confirm), you'll now see a tab for a COVID-19 Guide when you visit podcasts and other content discussing the new coronavirus. Tap it and you'll visit a section that points you to authoritative sources (such as the UK's National Health Service and the World Health Organization) as well as trustworthy content, including podcast episodes from BBC News and The Guardian.

Spotify COVID-19 content advisory label
Engadget

We've asked Spotify for comment. The advisory doesn't appear to be available everywhere — we couldn't see it in Canada as of this writing, for instance.

The section represents part of Spotify's response to criticism of Joe Rogan's podcast. The host has been accused of spreading COVID-19 misinformation through the Joe Rogan Experience, including a December 2021 episode where Dr. Robert Malone falsely claimed a "psychosis" fooled people into believing vaccines were effective against the virus. Spotify answered the backlash with both a promise of the content advisory as well as public content guidelines, but the label was expected to arrive within days, not months.

The content warning might not do much to improve Spotify's image. Numerous high-profile artists pulled or paused their work in protest over the misinformation existing in the first place, including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and author Brené Brown — a label isn't likely to satisfy them and other critics who want Spotify to remove misinformation. While Spotify's efforts have addressed the concerns of some creators, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, there still appears to be some lasting damage.

Update 3/29 10:35AM ET: Spotify tells Engadget the labels have been there since February 2nd, and that it has just been adding them to relevant podcasts on a "rolling basis" in the weeks since. About 1.4 million episodes now display the advisory, the company said. The news is that the content advisories are now relatively ubiquitous, not that they're new. Engadget apologizes for the confusion.

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