Close to 300 American medical experts and scientists struck out at Spotify for what they called its contribution to misinformation about COVID-19.
The experts singled out Joe Rogan’s popular podcast for hosting a prominent vaccine skeptic. In an open letter to the streaming service, they criticized Rogan for hosting Dr. Robert Malone, who has been banned from other platforms for spreading misinformation about COVID-19.
On Dec. 31, Rogan spoke to Malone on an episode of his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” where Malone said that there had recently been an “explosion of vaccine-associated deaths,” and alleged that hospitals are financially incentivized to label COVID as a cause of patient deaths.
Malone also said leaders are using “free-floating anxiety” to “hypnotize” the public. This, the experts wrote, was the platform’s failure to mitigate the damage it can enable by failing to do more to prevent the spread of COVID misinformation.
“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,” the letter stated.
Rogan himself came in for criticism from the experts for his own past comments on COVID-19 and vaccines. He previously has made controversial statements about COVID and hosted guests making unproven claims.
During the pandemic, Malone has encouraged the use of a drug called ivermectin to treat the virus, something flagged by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as potentially dangerous. He has also claimed that mRNA vaccines are “gene therapy”, and discouraged vaccination in young people and children before.
After contracting COVID-19 in August, Rogan encouraged his viewers to get vaccinated to protect themselves in October. Even then, Rogan was combative in complaining about media criticism of his endorsement of ivermectin while continuing to downplay COVID-19’s severity.
In the episode with Malone, Rogan said on air that “There’s all these rumors that you would hear about what a hospital gets paid per Covid death and that the government gives them money and that they’re incentivized.” Malone responded, “It’s not rumors.”
Why the experts chose to speak out against Spotify was because of the sheer reach of Rogan’s show, the most popular on the streaming service with 11-million viewers. Many of them are also younger, which they said makes accurate information more urgent due to the growing rate of hospitalization for younger, unvaccinated persons if they test positive for COVID-19.
“This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform,” the letter closed.