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Editorial: Internet Media Platforms Should Be Financially Responsible for Damage Caused by Misinformation | Editorial


The Toronto Star on Spotify and the fight against COVID misinformation:

Over the past few days, a number of brave artists have taken a valiant stand against the lies and misinformation promoted on Spotify.

In particular, Neil Young pulled his music from the Spotify platform in protest against popular podcast host Joe Rogan, who has welcomed several outspoken vaccine skeptics for COVID-19.

Initially, it looked like Young would lose the David and Goliath fight with Spotify. Featured columnist Vinay Menon wrote an excellent article about the battle and we agreed with his biting and humorous wit. “Joe Rogan doesn’t need Spotify. Spotify needs Joe Rogan,” Menon wrote. “Spotify doesn’t need Neil Young.”

So it looked like Young’s bet was doomed. And of course, Spotify decided to stick with Rogan and his misinformation-laden podcasts and quickly dropped the music of the brave Neil Young. A first victory for Spotify.

Since then, however, other artists, including Joni Mitchell, have joined the cause.

Spotify may have miscalculated. The controversy continues to escalate and the company has lost over $2 billion in market value over the past week.

Spotify has now started outlining the steps it will take to combat COVID misinformation, releasing its rules governing permitted and unauthorized content on its platform.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said the company would add a notice to any podcast episode discussing COVID. “It has 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 that guides us through this unprecedented time,” he added. .

Joe Rogan himself has apologized and promised to strike a better balance when inviting guests over to discuss COVID and vaccines.

This attempt by Spotify to quell the growing controversy is too little, too late.

Borrowing the lyrics from a Neil Young song, Spotify has “one wheel in the ditch and one wheel on the track”. In other words, Spotify has a dominant global presence in music and podcasts, but it needs to hold its artists accountable for lies and misinformation beyond mere internal warnings.

Like other outlets, including the Toronto Star, Spotify should be required to publicly acknowledge and correct misinformation on its platform or face costly litigation from anyone who suffers from it.

In the event of misinformation about the COVID pandemic, the damages of wrongful death would be massive and would certainly ensure that Spotify takes its improvement seriously.

To the extent that current legislation in Canada is not strong or clear enough to support litigation against platforms like Spotify, steps should be taken to strengthen our laws.

Internet media platforms like Spotify have made billions of dollars in profits while promoting lies and misinformation. These platforms would do more than initiate internal rules if they were made financially responsible for the damages they profit from.

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