Spotify pulled down at least 70 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience from its archives on Friday. However, the disappeared episodes don’t have much to do with the platform’s ongoing controversy over COVID-19 misinformation.
One of the first to notice the episode purge was one of Rogan’s former guests, Ukrainian-American author and podcaster Michael Malice, who tweeted out Friday that two of his appearances had been deleted.
— Michael Malice (@michaelmalice) February 4, 2022
Notably, the most recent removed episode, #1218, is from December 2018.
After hearing about the takedowns, Gizmodo checked a website that regularly monitors Rogan’s episode visibility on Spotify and found that 70 of them had been deleted. We later manually checked and confirmed the site’s assessment. Clips of some of the deleted episodes appear to still be available on YouTube, though not all of them are.
In case you somehow haven’t heard, Rogan and Spotify have been at the centre of an ever escalating controversy involving accusations that the podcaster has promoted COVID-19 misinformation on his show. Rogan claims he’s just trying to have conversations with interesting people, but critics have consistently argued that the podcaster is helping to spread dangerous misinformation which could lead to real-world harm.
The platform’s refusal to take moderation action against Rogan has left the internet ablaze in polarised argument and inspired several ageing rockstars — including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell — to pull their music off the streaming platform entirely.
Rogan recently published a video to Spotify in which he defended his choices and promised to get more opposing viewpoints, though critics have not seemed particularly satisfied with that response.
The episodes that were pulled don’t appear to have anything to do with the ongoing controversy. One of the episodes that has caused the most consternation — featuring the heavily criticised vaccine scientist Dr. Robert Malone — remains on Spotify. Malone was banned from Twitter after the platform determined he violated its COVID-19 misinformation policy. YouTube removed clips of his appearance on Rogan’s podcast on similar grounds.
This also isn’t the first time that Spotify has done a purge of Rogan’s material. Last year it was reported that Spotify had quietly deleted over 40 episodes of Rogan’s show.
We reached out to Spotify for comment and will update this story if they respond or when more information becomes available.
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