Some 270 doctors and science educators issued an open letter last month to music streaming company Spotify to protest a podcast that featured a guest who claimed “mass formation psychosis” was responsible for believing that COVID-19 vaccines worked and that hospitals earned money for falsely diagnosing COVID-19 deaths.
According to reporting in Rolling Stone, the guest on the Joe Rogan podcast, Dr. Robert Malone, had been banned from Twitter for promoting COVID-19 misinformation and undermining the efficacy of vaccines.
In the interview with Rogan, Malone also said the Biden administration was suppressing information on the efficacy of ivermectin—an anti-parasitic drug first used in farm animals–against the virus.
“Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy,” the letter said.
Earlier, Rogan—who reportedly has 11 million people listening to each episode—discouraged young people from getting vaccinated and promoted ivermectin to treat COVID symptoms despite a dearth of evidence supporting it.
More recently, 76-year-old rock musician Neil Young, inspired by the doctors’ move, told his management team and record label that Spotify would have to choose between streaming his music and hosting Rogan’s podcast.
Spotify could have Rogan or Young but not both, Young said.
Spotify chose Rogan. It expressed regrets about Young’s choice but said it wants all the world’s music and audio content to be available to its users and pointed out that it had already removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to the virus.
Young’s music is no longer available on Spotify.
Another music legend, Joni Mitchell, followed suit in solidarity with her friend Young and the global scientific and medical communities.
These two big names have articulated their position on anyone and anything that supports enables or encourages misinformation. The question is – how many more will follow? How many more will, for reasons of convenience and practicality, look the other way?
It is not only on the issue of COVID-19 that information has been skewed, distorted, denied, or manufactured across the globe. In matters of politics or governance, there are countless attempts by people in power, abetted by their league of defenders, to subvert the truth for their own interests.
Unfortunately, there remain too many people who lap up these claims too quickly without bothering to check whether they are true, or whether they stretch credulity.
In these few days leading to the start of the national campaign period, it is our hope that Filipino voters make a conscious effort to dig into the truth instead of believing readily available “sources,” and most importantly, take a principled stand against truth benders and outright liars.