WHO chief backs Neil Young on Covid misinformation line with Spotify | Spotify

The head of the World Health Organization has backed veteran rock star Neil Young in his dispute with music streaming giant Spotify, thanking the musician for “standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies” around Covid vaccinations.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, tweeted that “we all have a role to play in ending this pandemic and this infodemic” – especially social media platforms.

Spotify began removing Young’s music from its platform after the star issued an ultimatum to the company earlier this week. Referring to the controversial Joe Rogan podcasts hosted by Spotify, Young said, “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Spotify quickly made up its mind, unleashing an almighty storm over anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, cancel culture and social media policing.

Many Young fans and supporters of his position have called for a boycott of the streaming platform and for other artists to follow his lead. “I’m with Neil Young” and “#CancelSpotify” became rallying calls on social media on Thursday.

Actress and activist Mia Farrow tweeted: “Wow @Spotify you chose to keep the creepy and dangerous liar Joe Rodan rather than the magnificent Neil Young?”

There were no immediate signs of other big names in the music industry siding with Young against Spotify – an indication perhaps of his market dominance. Between 2010 and 2020, Spotify’s share of the US music market increased from 7% to 83%.

The controversy began with an open letter from Young to his manager and record company, posted earlier this week but since taken down. The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, hosted exclusively on Spotify and with an estimated audience of 11 million, had a “huge influence”, the letter said.

“Spotify spreads false information about vaccines – potentially causing the death of those who believe the misinformation is being spread by them,” Young wrote. The streaming platform had the responsibility to “mitigate the dissemination of false information on its platform”.

He asked his manager to “immediately let Spotify TODAY know that I want all my music removed from their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Spotify responded, saying, “We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to see him again soon.”

The company also said it had “detailed content policies in place and we have removed over 20,000 Covid-related podcast episodes since the start of the pandemic.”

Rogan signed a $100 million deal in 2020 giving Spotify exclusive rights to his show, which features conversations with guests on a range of issues, including politics, comedy, conspiracies and culture. cancelation. It’s Spotify’s most popular podcast and one of the largest in the world.

Three months ago, the company announced its turnover increased by 27% over the previous year, and he named the Joe Rogan experience as a factor in the double-digit growth of his podcast business.

Last year, Rogan was criticized by White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci for suggesting that healthy young Americans do not need to be vaccinated against Covid. The comment was “incorrect”, Fauci said.

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of scientists and medical experts have signed an open letter to Spotifyclaiming that Rogan had “repeatedly spread misleading and false claims on his podcast, causing mistrust in science and medicine” and had “spread a number of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories”.

They highlighted a three-hour episode of Rogan’s podcast, in which Robert Malone, a scientist and vaccine skeptic, claimed that “a third of the population” had “become hypnotized” by a ” mass-forming psychosis” like in Nazi Germany and “totally wrapped up in whatever Fauci in mainstream media feeds them”.

Despite Spotify’s claim that it has removed thousands of Covid-related podcasts since the pandemic began, Rogan has repeatedly said the company has failed to vet its content.

“Spotify asked me not to change anything. They’ve never – they’ve been amazing. I’m very happy with them, I’m very happy,” he said last year.

Young, 76, whose hits include Heart of Gold, Harvest Moon, Helpless and Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World, has a long but inconsistent political history. His album, Living With War, released in the aftermath of the Iraq war, called for the removal of President George W Bush.

Donald Trump, he said, had “betrayed the people, exaggerated and amplified the truth to foment hatred” and that “social media…cripples our belief system, turning us against each other.”

Last year, he sold half the rights to his catalog of songs to Hipgnosis for an undisclosed but estimated nine-figure fee.

A clue to his views on viruses and vaccines can be found in his autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace, published in 2012. He remembers contracting poliomyelitis at the age of five before a vaccine became widely available, quoting his brother, Bob: was evident that his life was at stake.

Young wrote, “We had a quarantine sign on our house that said polio on it and warned people not to come in or something to that effect. Nobody wanted to be near me for a while.

He had other serious health problems during his life, including epilepsy and a brain aneurysm.

A spokesperson for Young said it’s unclear if the star would comment further on the Spotify and Joe Rogan issues. “He’s really his own person on stuff like that,” the spokesperson said.

Spotify has been contacted for comment.

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