The snowballing situation surrounding Spotify and Joe Rogan was elevated on Sunday when the streaming behemoth unveiled sweeping new rules regarding "dangerous content" on the platform.
Spotify rolled out new restrictions on content that the platform deems "dangerous," "deceptive," sensitive," and "illegal." The rules will apply to musicians, podcasters, and other contributors.
Spotify warned, "Don’t promote violence, incite hatred, harass or engage in any other behavior that may place people at risk of serious physical harm or death."
Spotify labels content dangerous if it promotes selling illegal drugs, threatening serious physical harm or acts of violence against a specific target or specific group, or glorifying child grooming behaviors.
By Spotify's own terms, there would seemingly be no shortage of music artists who have already violated their new rules on what the platform considers dangerous content.
In what appears to be an attempt to rein in Rogan, the streaming platform also unveiled new rules on "content that promotes dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health."
Spotify will crack down on contributors who assert that AIDS, COVID-19, cancer, or other serious life-threatening diseases are a hoax or not real, encourage the consumption of bleach products to cure various illnesses and diseases, suggest that vaccines approved by local health authorities are designed to cause death, or recommend that people purposely get infected with COVID-19 in order to build immunity to it.
Spotify warned that content that violates the rules may get removed from the platform, and repeat rule-breakers could be terminated.
"Repeated or egregious violations may result in accounts being suspended and/or terminated," Spotify stated.
On Sunday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek released a blog post on the new rules.
"It is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them," Ek said.
"Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time," Ek said as pressure mounts for Spotify to cancel Rogan. "These issues are incredibly complex. We’ve heard you – especially those from the medical and scientific communities."
Ek announced that Spotify will "add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19."
The music streaming platform will "combat misinformation" by directing listeners to its "COVID-19 Hub," a "resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources."
Rogan — who has an estimated 11 million listeners each episode — was thrust back into the spotlight last week when Neil Young demanded that the podcast host be terminated or censored by Spotify for "spreading fake information about vaccines." The ultimatum backfired, and Spotify removed Young's music instead.
Earlier this month, an open letter allegedly co-signed by "270 doctors" was sent to Spotify in an effort to cancel Rogan. However, it turned out the majority of those signatories were not legally allowed to practice medicine on their own.
In May 2020, Rogan reportedly signed a $100 million deal with Spotify that gave the streaming service exclusive distribution rights of his podcast, but not ownership.