Anti-vaccine podcast: in the end, it is Joe Rogan who could leave Spotify

Podcaster Joe Rogan is being criticized from all sides for making anti-vaccine comments on his show. While several artists have preferred to leave Spotify rather than stay on the same platform, it is now he who could leave.

And [mon podcast] becomes different because it has become too important, I quit. If I get to the point where I can’t do what I want anymore, if I have to do it a certain way, being careful what I say, well, fuck it “. In issue 1798 of his famous podcast, Joe Rogan for the first time said that he could quit podcasting and leave Spotify if the platform compelled him.

However, this has never been the case until now. Spotify notoriously let Joe Rogan utter fake Covid news, anti-vaccine slurs and racial slurs on his podcast for a very long time. It is only since the Canadian musician Neil Young, in February 2022, demanded accounts from the platform that Spotify decided to act.

Spotify could lose Joe Rogan // Source: Nino Barbey for Numerama

Spotify paid $200 million for Joe Rogan’s podcast

Neil Young issued an ultimatum in February, annoyed by the anti-vaccine comments made in the podcast: it was him, or Joe Rogan. But Spotify has always stood up for Joe Rogan, even when Neil Young removed all of his music from the platform, he was impersonated by Joni Mitchell, and when the story caused quite a stir.

The only concessions Spotify agreed to make to calm the situation were to publish the platform’s rules on its site, and to put an information message on the Covid before Joe Rogan’s podcasts. Measures which have not been deemed sufficient by Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who have still not returned to the streaming platform.

Anti-vaccine podcast: in the end, it is Joe Rogan who could leave Spotify
The Covid information message that Spotify put before Joe Rogan’s podcasts // Source: Numerama screenshot

The two musicians are not the only ones to have wondered about the preferential treatment granted to Joe Rogan. Because despite the controversy and the departure of several artists, the platform wanted to keep the podcast. And it’s probably because of the price she paid to have the exclusivity. The New York Times has indeed revealed that Spotify had paid 200 million to be the only one to broadcast The Joe Rogan Experience, double what had been advanced at the base.

For now, the platform has never publicly asked Joe Rogan to change his behavior, or even not to discuss certain topics. The podcaster’s comment about a possible departure in the event of limitation serves as a clear warning to Spotify that it will not accept any moderation.

Podcast moderation is already a hot topic for streaming platforms. Because in addition to that of Joe Rogan, Spotify hosts other dangerous content. Numerama notably revealed that the platform had, for a long time, hosted the programs of Equality and Reconciliation, the radio of Alain Soral, multi-convicted for incitement to hatred, and the podcasts of the QAnon conspiracy group Les DéQodeurs. If these two programs have since the publication of our article been deleted, Spotify continues to host the podcasts of Thierry Casasnovas, a raw foodist suspected of sectarian drift who explains that vaccines are dangerous for health in a program.

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Podcast moderation is a major issue // Source: Samet Kuru / Numerama

Spotify, given the amount of money spent to secure the podcast’s exclusivity, may well give up trying to moderate Joe Rogan for good, even if it means continuing to accept dangerous content. However, the Swedish site is not the only one to suffer from moderation problems: all music streaming platforms encounter the same problem, as Numerama showed in a survey. Anti-vaccine, conspiratorial or extremist content is easily found on all platforms.

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