Joe Rogan & Spotify: When misinformation, free speech, and streaming cross paths


Joe Rogan–the man behind the biggest podcast in America — is facing backlash from supporters and critics alike after he and his guest made numerous faulty claims in an 3+ hour-long episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

The podcast averages 11 million listeners per episode which is roughly 8 million more than the second-most-listened podcast.

Now, people are calling on Spotify–the multibillion-dollar music streaming giant–to not only put an end to the misinformation allowed on their platform but to also remove Joe Rogan himself from the streaming service altogether.

The demand comes after clips of Rogan saying derogatory and offensive slurs and comments resurfaced.

To truly grasp the situation, it is best to start from the beginning.

On December 31, 2021, Robert Malone, a man masquerading as the inventor of mRNA vaccines, was a guest on “The Joe Rogan Experience,” to discuss vaccine effectiveness and safety as well as what role scientists should play in the pandemic and media coverage.

Throughout the three-hour podcast, many claims made by Rogan and Malone were inaccurate and perpetuated dangerous, misinformed thinking for millions to hear.

For example, Malone claimed that if somebody dies with a positive PCR Covid test, then their cause of death is pronounced to be due to Covid, even if their actual cause of death is different.

This, however, is false. If someone dies to unrelated causes while being Covid positive, it is not a Covid-related death, according to The New York Times.

This is not the first time that misinformation has been highlighted on Rogan’s podcast, however, with different guests being featured on each episode of the podcast’s 1,780 and counting episode run, many of whom are extremists on both ends of the political spectrum.

As the episode garnered attention and multiple videos of Rogan using racial slurs and derogatory terms resurfaced, internet users called for Rogan to be removed from the platform completely.

Even Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren, and others are pulling their music from Spotify in protest until they regulate Rogan and others on the misinformation put out.

As this caused a public uproar, many have claimed that removing Rogan from the streaming service would be considered censorship and a violation of free speech while others believe it would be dangerous to leave Rogan on the platform because it shows others that misinformation and hate speech would be allowed.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek responded to these criticisms by saying that while he does condemn Rogan for his offensive language and misinformed facts, he does “not believe that silencing Joe is the answer,” according to NPR.

So where does this go from here? The truth is, nobody really knows.

Joe Rogan’s Spotify deal is said to be worth over $200 million, and over 11 million people tune in to hear what Rogan has to say each episode.

And while Joe Rogan is not an expert in vaccines or science (or anything), in this day and age you don’t need to be an expert to influence the public.

Modern media and streaming services like Spotify blur the lines between what is and isn’t censorship, and the fact that anyone can start a podcast on Spotify themselves doesn’t help this issue.

Spotify has since begun adding content warnings to episodes that discuss COVID-19 and a page that includes a link to the CDC website as well as multiple podcasts and articles that accurately discuss COVID.

So while Joe Rogan is not going anywhere, Spotify is now facing the repercussions as their stock declines and many users have joined artists like Neil Young in boycotting the company.

This is certainly not the end of the debate regarding misinformation and censorship, but it does shift the tides in public opinion and indicates that this is a complex issue that is only going to get more complicated as time goes on.