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Spotify responds to controversy with COVID-19 podcast warnings

After facing criticism and mounting pressure to act on controversial episodes of the "Joe Rogan Experience", Spotify has finally responded by saying it will warn users listening to podcast episodes discussing COVID-19.

Following days of complaints about the "Joe Rogan Experience" podcast's handling of COVID-19 misinformation, as well as the departure of some artists from the service over apparent inaction over content the service hosts, Spotify's response is to try and be more transparent about its policies.

In a lengthy blog post, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wrote on Sunday that users have asked a "lot of questions over the last few days about our platform policies and the lines we have drawn between what is acceptable and what is not." While the rules were allegedly in place for "many years," the service hasn't been "transparent" about the policies themselves.

"Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it's become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time" writes Ek.

As part of the changes, Spotify is publishing its "long-standing Platform Rules," which were developed by an internal team with assistance from external experts. The rules will be "updated regularly to reflect the changing safety landscape."

A content advisory will also be added to any podcast episode that "includes a discussion about COVID-19," with listeners directed to a dedicated COVID-19 hub. The hub will provide access to "data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics, and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources."

Rogan's podcast was repeatedly viewed as a platform for COVID-19 discussion, albeit one that spread misinformation about the pandemic. Following a lack of action on its part, musician Neil Young pulled his music from Spotify in protest, followed by artists Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren.