People have complained about the racism and ridiculousness of Joe Rogan’s podcast for years. But a post from India Arie has the former Fear Factor frontman apologizing and his platform quietly purging dozens of episodes.
Arie announced that she would pull her catalog from Spotify four days ago, following Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Speaking to her followers on Instagram, Arie clarifies her position on leaving Spotify. She also showed a clip of Rogan telling a joke about going to a Black neighborhood that he described as traveling to the Planet of the Apes.
“I empathize with the people who are leaving for the COVID disinformation reasons, and I think that they should,” Arie said. “I also think that Joe Rogan has the right to say what he wants to say., I also think that I have the right to say what I want to say.”
But in acknowledging Rogan’s freedom to say whatever he wants, Arie explained that she would not subsidize his racism.
“Spotify is built on the back of the music streaming,” Arie explained. “They take this money that’s built from streaming, and they pay this guy $100 million, but they pay us 0.003% of a penny. Just take me off. I don’t want to generate money that pays this.”
She also shared clips of him saying the N-word repeatedly in different segments. The Verge reported Spotify removed 70 episodes of the podcast without explanation. While Rogan claims to apologize, he tries to excuse his behavior by saying it was out of context, a claim Arie pre-emptively addresses in her video.
iHeartRadio podcast host and tech accountability expert Bridget Todd waded into the convo last week, stressing the need for centering the voices and experiences of marginalized communities.
“I work on misinfo content moderation and platform accountability issues and created an award-winning podcast specifically centering the impact misinfo has on already marginalized communities,” Todd tweeted. “We should be centering marginalized voices in conversations about Joe Rogan and Spotify.”
Host of the award-winning “There Are No Girls On The Internet,” Todd has been at the forefront of disinformation and platform accountability for years. Last year Todd developed “Disinformed,” a limited series focusing on disinformation. “Disinformed” won a Shorty award in the podcast mini-series category. Todd’s podcast recently won the iHeart Radio Podcast Award for Best Technology podcast.
Platform accountability has long been an issue but has picked up momentum after evidence showed the influence of social media platforms, mainly Facebook, in spreading election disinformation. Similar topics presented in the political context have spilled over into the public health realm.
While those supporting Rogan insist that the federal government is the real source of misinformation, research by groups such as the Disinfo Defense League and First Draft News have documented the harm in allowing misleading information to spread online without recourse.
Allowing disinformation and misinformation to flourish for profit undermines the public health trust and supports problematic narratives that need to be debunked not nurtured.