Democracy & Elections

The Lawfare Podcast: Spotify Faces the Content Moderation Music

Jen Patja Howell, Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic, Ashley Carman
Thursday, February 10, 2022, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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The Joe Rogan Experience is perhaps the most  popular podcast in the world—and it’s been at the center of a weeks-long controversy over COVID misinformation and content moderation. After Rogan invited on a guest who told falsehoods about the safety of COVID vaccines, outrage mounted toward Spotify, the podcasting and music streaming company that recently signed an exclusive deal with Rogan to distribute his show. Spotify came under pressure to intervene, as nearly 300 experts sent the company a letter demanding it take action, and musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell pulled their music from Spotify’s streaming service. And the controversy only seems to be growing. 

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ashley Carman, a senior reporter at The Verge who writes the newsletter Hot Pod, covering the podcast and audio industry. She’s broken news on Spotify’s content guidelines and Spotify CEO’s Daniel Ek’s comments to the company’s staff, and we couldn’t think of a better person to talk to about this slow-moving disaster. How has Spotify responded to the complaints over Rogan, and what does that tell us about how the company is thinking about its responsibilities in curating content? What’s Ashley’s read on the state of content moderation in the podcast industry more broadly? And … is this debate even about content moderation at all?

Jen Patja Howell is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Evelyn Douek is an Assistant Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Senior Research Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She holds a doctorate from Harvard Law School on the topic of private and public regulation of online speech. Prior to attending HLS, Evelyn was an Associate (clerk) to the Honourable Chief Justice Susan Kiefel of the High Court of Australia. She received her LL.B. from UNSW Sydney, where she was Executive Editor of the UNSW Law Journal.
Quinta Jurecic is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a senior editor at Lawfare. She previously served as Lawfare's managing editor and as an editorial writer for the Washington Post.
Ashley Carman is a senior reporter at The Verge who writes the newsletter Hot Pod, covering the podcast and audio industry.

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