Lending their voices to a growing number of public figures who have spoken out against the streaming giant amid a dispute about Joe Rogan’s controversial podcast, the couple addressed the “serious harms” of spreading false claims surrounding vaccines in a statement on Sunday.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who signed an exclusive, multiyear podcasting partnership with Spotify in 2020, said they previously raised the issue about the “all-too-real consequences of COVID-19 misinformation” with the company last April.
“Since the inception of Archwell, we have worked to address the real-time global misinformation crisis. Hundreds of millions of people are affected by the serious harms of rampant mis- and disinformation every day,” a spokesperson for the couple’s Archwell Foundation said, per People. “Last April, our co-founders began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all-too-real consequences of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform.”
“We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis,” the statement concluded. “We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does.”
The statement did not mention Rogan or his massively popular podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which is exclusively carried by Spotify, but others haven’t shied away from directly addressing the host’s lies.
Last week, musician Neil Young pulled his entire catalog from the streaming service, citing the company’s distribution partnership with Rogan, who he said was disseminating “false information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them.”
Days later, Joni Mitchell followed suit in solidarity with Young and the “global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”
In response to the controversy, Spotify said on Wednesday that the company had the “great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators” and had “removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID since the start of the pandemic.”
But many believe the streaming service hasn’t been aggressive enough in its fight against misinformation. The host and comedian actively discouraged young people from getting the vaccine only to backpedal days later, admitting he was a “fucking moron” and “not a respected source of information, even for me.” He also promoted the use of ivermectin as a way to treat COVID-19 and suggested President Joe Biden faked getting a booster shot on live TV.
Earlier this month, a coalition of 270 doctors, scientists, professors and medical professionals signed an open letter blasting Rogan’s podcast for “promoting baseless conspiracy theories” and “allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions.”
“With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence,” the letter read. “Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
First announced in December 2020, Spotify’s partnership with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was formed to “host and produce podcasts that build community through shared experience, narratives, and values,” according to a press release at the time.
But the deal has yet to bear much fruit. Apart from a 33-minute 2020 holiday special, which included a surprise appearance from their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the couple hasn’t released any content on the platform.