Nearly 300 US medical and scientific experts hit Spotify for what they called its contribution to COVID-19 misinformation.
Experts have 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 harboring Dr. Robert Malone, who was banned from other platforms for spreading false information about COVID-19.
On Dec. 31, Rogan spoke with Malone in an episode of his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” where Malone said there had recently been an “explosion of vaccine-associated deaths” and alleged that the hospitals were financially incentivized to label COVID as the cause of patient death.
Malone also said executives used “floating anxiety” to “hypnotize” the public. This, the experts wrote, was the platform’s failure to mitigate the damage it can cause by not doing more to prevent the spread of COVID misinformation.
“We are a coalition of scientists, healthcare professionals, professors and science communicators covering a wide range of fields such as microbiology, immunology, epidemiology and neuroscience and we call on Spotify to take action against mass disinformation events that continue to occur on its platform,” the letter reads.
Rogan himself has come under fire from experts for his own past comments on COVID-19 and vaccines. He has previously made controversial claims about COVID and hosted guests making unproven claims.
During the pandemic, Malone promoted the use of a drug called ivermectin to treat the virus, something flagged by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as potentially dangerous. He also claimed mRNA vaccines were “gene therapy” and previously advised against vaccinating young people and children.
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 the severity of COVID-19.
In the episode with Malone, Rogan said on air that “there are all these rumors that you would hear that a hospital gets paid per Covid death and the government gives them money and that ‘they are incited.’ Malone replied, “Those aren’t rumors.”
The reason pundits chose to slam Spotify was because of the reach of Rogan’s show, the streaming service’s most popular with 11 million viewers. Many of them are also younger, which they say makes accurate information more urgent due to the rising rate of hospitalization of younger, unvaccinated people if they test positive for COVID-19.
“It’s not just a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological problem of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform,” the letter concludes.