Joni Mitchell Joins Neil Young in Fight Against COVID-19 Misinformation on Spotify

Joni Mitchell Joins Neil Young in Fight Against COVID-19 Misinformation on Spotify

Days after veteran rocker Neil Young decided to take down his music from Spotify over COVID-19 misinformation on The Joe Rogan Experience, musician Joni Mitchell has joined him, saying she will also pull her work from the streaming platform.

Mitchell announced her decision in a short statement on her website on Friday and said that false information on Spotify was costing people their lives. Like Young, she referenced an open letter to Spotify signed by 270 scientists, medical professionals, and science educators published in mid-January calling on the streaming platform to adopt a clear and public policy on misinformation.

Although Spotify claims it has detailed content policies in place and has removed more than 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, it doesn’t currently appear to have a solid misinformation policy in its rules unlike other major platforms.

“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify. Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” Mitchell said on Friday. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”

Gizmodo reached out to Spotify on Saturday to ask for comment on Mitchell’s decision but did not hear back by the time of publication. We’ll update this article if someone gets back to us.

COVID-19 misinformation on Spotify was thrust into the spotlight by a December episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, the platform’s most popular podcast. In the episode, Rogan interviews Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist who was booted off Twitter for promoting vaccine misinformation and a frequent source of conspiracy theories and false information.

Malone tells Rogan that “mass formation psychosis,” a baseless concept that is not considered a legitimate scientific idea, has hypnotized people into believing in the efficacy of vaccines. He also repeated a popular, and false, claim that hospitals diagnose COVID-19 deaths for financial reasons.

“Dr. Malone’s interview has reached many tens of millions of listeners vulnerable to predatory medical misinformation. Mass-misinformation events of this scale have extraordinarily dangerous ramifications,” the open letter from scientists, medical professionals, and science educators stated. It continued: “This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform.”

Notably, the open letter doesn’t ask Spotify to part ways with Rogan or delete the episode, only to “immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform.”

This isn’t the first time that Rogan has peddled misinformation on the show, having previously suggested that 21-year-olds don’t need to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Rogan has also invited guests that have said the drug ivermectin could end the pandemic — which is not true — and has promoted the drug himself.

While Spotify’s response to Mitchell’s departure is still up in the air, it’s unlikely that the streaming platform will act against Rogan. However, the streaming platform could be forced to take a tougher stance on misinformation if more artists, and users, decide to leave. We’ll have to wait and see.

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