Why Spotify’s Content Warnings for Podcasts Aren’t Good Enough

Stemming from its handling of a controversy relating to Joe Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, Spotify is in hot water over its handling of COVID-19 misinformation.

Responding to the backlash, Spotify adds content advisories to COVID-19 related podcasts. However, it may not be good enough. Read on to find out why.

Spotify Adds a Content Advisory to Some of Its Podcasts

In January 2022, Spotify added COVID-19 content advisories to all podcast episodes which discuss the pandemic in an aim to get somewhat of a handle on misinformation around the topic on its platform.

According to For the Record, Daniel Ek, Founder and CEO of Spotify, announced:

We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19. This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated COVID-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy 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. This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days. To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.

This post follows the backlash received by the streaming service from music artists, content creators, as well as medical professionals and scientists. In an open letter published on January 10, 2022, more than 200 people called on Spotify to implement a misinformation policy.

Why Spotify’s Content Warnings for Podcasts Aren’t Good Enough

With regard to the issue of COVID-19 misinformation, Spotify seems to have dragged its feet. So, it’s no surprise that its solution is a text-based content warning, which is not nearly enough.

The most obvious reason is that podcasts are audio content. Because people listen to podcast episodes while driving, exercising, cleaning, or doing any other activity, it is rare for listeners to watch their screen while tuning in.

With this, text-based content warnings are not the best way to reach its target audience. Similar to how people skip past written terms and conditions, listeners can easily and quickly click off warnings without reading it and continue listening.

Instead, Spotify audio content warnings that listeners can’t skip in the first few seconds would have been more effective.

By forcing them to listen to the content advisories, much like how audio and video ads work on other podcasts and on YouTube, people are guaranteed to hear the warnings because they would already be listening anyway.

Is Spotify Doing Enough to Curb COVID-19 Misinformation?

The Joe Rogan saga revealed that Spotify isn’t doing enough to curb the spread of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform.

The introduction of the content warning provided Spotify the opportunity to improve on that. However, it’s a solution that is still lacking in execution.

Although, if Spotify really wants to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 misinformation on its podcast platform, its best bet is audio content warnings, which would be significantly more effective than a text-based one.

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