Medical Coalition Urges Spotify To Stop Rogan's COVID Misinfo, As Ads Go For Reported $1M Minimum

A coalition of 270 doctors, nurses, scientists and science educators is urging Spotify to stop podcast host Joe Rogan from spreading misinformation about COVID and vaccines. 

The health care professionals posted an open letter pointing out that Rogan — who hosts “The Joe Rogan Experience” (“JRE”), one of the world’s largest podcasts (some say the largest) on Spotify — has throughout the pandemic “repeatedly spread misleading and false claims on his podcast, provoking distrust in science and medicine,” endangering lives and damaging society. 

The letter calls on Spotify to “immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform.” 

Rogan “has discouraged vaccination in young people and children, incorrectly claimed that mRNA vaccines are 'gene therapy,' promoted off-label use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 (contrary to FDA warnings), and spread a number of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories,” the letter points out. 

This past October, after Spotify began taking increasing heat for Rogan’s COVID misinformation, Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content and advertising business officer, vowed that the media company would not allow any inaccurate content on its platform.

“There are definitely, you know, very aggressive moves on our part to invest in not only the R&D side of content moderation but also in our teams for trust and safety,” Ostroff said during a summit hosted by Fortune. “And we continue to invest a significant amount of money there, because it's important for everybody.”

But the open letter to Spotify cites a “JRE” episode aired just two weeks ago, on Dec. 31, as a prime example of dangerous misinformation. The show featured Dr. Robert Malone, who was suspended from Twitter for spreading misinformation about COVID. Malone used Rogan’s platform “to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized’ the public,” the health care professionals wrote.

Malone “is one of two recent ‘JRE’ guests who have compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust,” they added. “These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.”

According to research by MediaMonitors, the average age of “JRE” listeners is 24, and according to data from Washington State, unvaccinated 12- to-34-year-olds are 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than those who are fully vaccinated, the letter states.

Malone’s interview “has reached many tens of millions of listeners vulnerable to predatory medical misinformation,” it adds. “Mass-misinformation events of this scale have extraordinarily dangerous ramifications.” 

None of which has deterred multiple advertisers from buying exposure on each episode of “JRE.”

The podcast has a devoted audience averaging about 11 million per episode, according to analytics pulled from Spotify and Nielsen. As of 2019, the audio and video podcast — which became exclusively licensed to Spotify as of December 2020 (in a deal reportedly worth at least $100 million) — was claiming it had more than 200 million monthly downloads.

Last month, ad-buyer sources told The Verge that a host-read ad on the podcast “used to cost tens of thousands of dollars” before the show moved to Spotify, but this year, the minimum spend to secure any ads on the podcast is $1 million, at a cost per thousand of upwards of $60. 

As of May 2020, the Magellan AI blog, based on having analyzed more than 21,000 shows, reported that most episodes of “JRE” were carrying four pre-roll ads.

6 comments about "Medical Coalition Urges Spotify To Stop Rogan's COVID Misinfo, As Ads Go For Reported $1M Minimum".
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  1. Kirk Augustin from Mr., January 17, 2022 at 6:14 p.m.

    Except that no one knows more about mRNA techniques than Dr. Robert Malone, and clearly these mRNA vaccines do not last, so do not work.  All the mRNA vaccines do is instruct your own cells to start growing spike proteins, and while that does stimulate antibody production, it can't be stored in permanent T-cell memory.  Hence the boosters every 6 months.  So Rogan should be heard by everyone.  It is Fauci's lies that need to be censored.

  2. Alan Welsh from Columbia Data Products, January 17, 2022 at 7:38 p.m.

    Censoring is just not going to work, will backfire and cause grave damage to many of us.  If there's opposing evidence, present it. Suppressing anyone that offers evidence you think it wrong, incorrect, or misleading MUST FIRST be heard, and only then when it is examined in context, will you be able to prove your opposing views.  Look for any evidence of damage from releasing "false information" and you will come up empty handed.  But, you will find many instances of censorship that have destroyed whole countries.  Venezuela most recently.

    There ARE open debates about Vaccines that MUST be had.  But, there can be no debate unless both sides will be heard completely.  I contend that most everyone on both sides presents real, accurate, and true "evidence".  However, if part of the available information is withheld, supressed somewhat or NOT presented at all, horrible decisions occur.

    By now we all agree that we will all be exposed to Omicron.  Knowing what effect vaccines will, or will not have, is CRITICAL.  So, ALL evidence OR "fake news" MUST ALL BE HEARD FIRST.  Only then can opposing conclusion or evidence be properly considered.  Ever see court held that doesn't have both defense and prosecutor/plaintiffs??  Why not??  Because, justice and truth demand both sides to be heard.  This is no different, except to stakes are huge for all of us.

    Today's news -- YMMV on how accurate or fake--do your own research:   
    Australia, that is both locked down AND 95% vaccinated, is now averaging 100,000 new Covid cases PER DAY, per day.  That rate is on par with the FAR LESS vaccinated US that is not locked down, adding about 1,00,000 new cases per day. -- IF both of these are true or not, only someone stupid, insane or dishonest to personally profit somehow, would try to supress ANY discussions to validate or invalidate conclusions from these facts.

    Suppressing speech is doomed to long term failure, even if it appears to work in the near term.   Incorrect conclusions from supression can cause incredible damage.  History has many examples of stifled speech causing grave damage.  But, you won't find instances where free speech, (that also allows opposing views to be heard), causes any long term damage.  (It IS often profitable for some, and they often advocate against free speech.)   

  3. Kirk Augustin from Mr. replied, January 17, 2022 at 8:35 p.m.

    After reading your comment, I have to agree.  There is much false information out there, but censoring is not the way.  The censors can be and likely are wrong.

  4. Gwyneth Llewelyn from Beta Technologies, January 18, 2022 at 4:58 p.m.

    There seems to be a slight misunderstanding here.

    When @Alan above suggested that 'ALL evidence OR "fake news" MUST ALL BE HEARD FIRST', he labours under a very dangerous, but quite widespread, assumption on the meaning of the word opinion.

    I've written a bit more on this subject on Medium (see if you have some interest in reading more), but here's the summary (MediaPost restricts the number of characters):

    1. Not all opinions are created equal: qualified opinions are made by experts in the field (and each field defines its own rules for establishing expertise).

    2. The word 'opinion' has different meanings according to context.

    3. Non-qualified opinions, also known as 'educated guesses', are worthless — even they're proven right! — and, as such, are not entitled to the same treatment as qualified opinions.

    4. Freedom of expression is way too often misinterpreted to mean 'the right to demand to be published' (and to demand to be published by the media, conventional or otherwise). That's a dangerous fallacy, which has been disseminated far too wide in the last decade; there is no such 'right to be published', just the right to emit (publicly) an opinion.

    5. Media outlets, from conventional media to social media, also have the right to freedom of expression, and that can be understood as being the 'editorial choice' (in the case of conventional media) or 'terms of service and user agreement' (in the case of social media). Just like no one is allowed to force us to have an opinion that we don't agree with, exactly the same applies to media in general: no one can force them to accept an opinion they do not agree with. ('No one', in this context, means mostly the government and/or the courts.)

    6. The idea that a private media company denies service to an individual, based on that individual's opinion is censorship, is a very dangerous fallacy. Censorship is when governments decide what opinions are published, and which companies are allowed to publish them. Companies deciding who they publish and who they don't is nobody else's business, so long as anyone is entitled to build their own media company (which is true on all countries touting freedom of expression).

    7. Fascism is not when a group of individuals — owners of a company, for example — restricts what can or cannot be done, in the context of their regular business operations. Fascism is when the government tells such groups of individuals what they are allowed to do, what kinds of activities are permitted or not, according to their opinion — and having the means to coerce companies to either comply with such restrictions or shut down their business (usually by also getting imprisoned/exiled/killed/whatever).

  5. Kenneth Fadner from MediaPost replied, January 21, 2022 at 11:58 a.m.

    Amen on that Gwyneth !

  6. Kirk Augustin from Mr. replied, January 21, 2022 at 12:50 p.m.

    Totally wrong.  Any censorship is wrong, evil, and fascist. It has to be up to US to determine for ourselces as to what is truth and what is lies.

    Freedom of expression DOES mean that a public utility, like the Internet, be accessible to any and all.  Those who try to monopolize it and control public opinion are in direct violation of FCC regulations.  The internet is NOT at all private as FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter claim.  They are the greatest threat our freedom has ever been faced with.  If they want to be private and arbitrarily censor, then let them start the own private network system.  They certainly are violating FCC rules if they want to use the public internet.

    And you have Fascism totally and completely backwards.  Fascism is EXACTLY when the wealthy elite control the majority with arbitray edicts based on force.  The fact that force is government, is irrelevant.  The point is private censorship of the public Internet is totally and completely illegal and fascist.  The point of a democratic republic government, is to prevent private Fascism.  Go read some history.  Fascism was defined by the Roman wealthy elite, and it is not about government.  It is about how a wealthy minority can prevent majority rule.

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