By Ross Kerber
– New York State’s top pension official has asked streaming music platform Spotify Technology SA for details about the effectiveness of its new content rules, citing complaints including that podcaster Joe Rogan has spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who oversees funds that hold Spotify shares, requested the report in a letter sent to Spotify Chief Executive Daniel Ek on Feb. 2, which was shown to Reuters.
The letter also urged Spotify to give users an easy mechanism to report content that could violate its rules, and to define how its board oversees content risks and enforcement.
DiNapoli cited reports of Spotify hosting content that has included COVID-19 misinformation, and racist and antisemitic material. Prominent rock musician Neil Young last month left the platform last month because he said Rogan has misled people about vaccines, followed by other stars.
“As we have seen with other technology and media companies who host or publish content, the failure to successfully moderate content on a company’s platforms can lead to various reputational, regulatory, legal, and financial risks,” DiNapoli wrote.
Spotify representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
Rogan, former host of the TV reality show Fear Factor and mixed martial arts commentator who signed a $100 million deal giving Spotify exclusive rights to his podcast, has pledged more balance on his show. The company said it would add a content advisory to any episode with discussion of COVID to try to quell the controversy.
On Jan. 30 Spotify also announced “platform rules” against things like “content that incites violence or hatred towards a person or group of people based on race, religion, gender identity or expression,” and other areas.
Retirement funds overseen by DiNapoli held shares in Spotify worth $41 million as of Dec. 31, only the 73rd-largest stake in the company.
But DiNapoli has been among a group of influential activists that have successfully pushed for more content oversight at other social media companies.