Rebellion In The Ranks: Spotify's Own 'Science VS' Podcast Will Tackle Platform's Misinformation

Science VS, a Spotify-owned, award-winning podcast, will only release new episodes targeting the platform's own misinformation problems until it enacts tougher rules. Host Wendy Zukerman and editor Blythe Terrell said the decision was in direct response to Spotify's support of Joe Rogan, a move that "felt like a slap in the face." Spotify found itself mired in controversy in late January 2022 after Joe Rogan hosted a doctor that made claims about COVID vaccines that have been repeatedly debunked and proven wrong. Unfortunately, none of that was highlighted, making it appear as if the doctor was citing facts.

The backlash was swift and severe, with Neil Young pulling his music from the platform. According to Engadget, he wasn't alone. Joni Mitchell pulled her music, and Brené Brown paused her popular podcast. India Arie and Graham Nash have said they will be pulling their music as well, citing other issues with Rogan's podcasts, including his tone on race.

Science VS' New Focus

Despite the high-profile defections, Zukerman and Terrell's decision regarding Science VS may be the most embarrassing and symbolically devastating for the platform.

In an open letter to Spotify CEO Daniel Elk, Zukerman and Terrell said they will no longer be producing new episodes of the podcast — except for episodes targeting misinformation on Spotify. That's right, Spotify's own award-winning podcast will now focus only on its own platform's misinformation problem until those problems are properly addressed.

"On Sunday, Spotify published its Platform Rules, but we don't think they go far enough," the duo wrote. "Until Spotify implements stronger methods to prevent the spread of misinformation on the platform, we will no longer be making new Science VS episodes, except those intended to counteract misinformation being spread on Spotify."

The duo also said they would be researching the different strategies that large platforms currently employ to moderate content in an effort to determine their effectiveness. The duo welcomed a dialog with Spotify to help further the company's efforts.

It appears Spotify is open to that, with Terrel tweeting the company "wants to work with us, which feels like a step in the right direction."

Spotify's current issues serve as a cautionary tale to content and media platforms not to ignore the views of those who have helped make such platforms popular. Doing so can result in significant problems, costly defections, and embarrassing internal rebellions.