On Thursday, Variety reported that Spotify had removed several episodes of "The Alex Jones Show," a far-right radio show hosted by infamous conspiracy theorist and Infowars founder Alex Jones, after the left-leaning non-profit organization Media Matters for America discovered the uploads with a simple search. Since Feb. 20 of this year, full-length episodes of the podcast had been mysteriously uploaded daily to Spotify, even though his show is no longer allowed on the platform.
Jones had been banned from Spotify in 2018 over community guidelines violations, which included glorifying violence and promoting hate speech.
At this time, it's unclear who uploaded the episodes. According to Spotify, uploading content, whether it's music, audio podcasts or video podcasts, is free to all users but must be reviewed by human moderators before publishing.
The news comes on the heels of Spotify's controversy with Joe Rogan's podcast "The Joe Rogan Experience." The platform pulled 71 episodes of the podcast due to "racially insensitive language" shortly after an edited video compilation showed Rogan using the N-word approximately "two dozen times." Spotify, however, failed to remove a separate episode on COVID-19 vaccines, which garnered criticism from health officials for its promotion of misinformation.
The platform also failed to remove an October 2020 episode that focuses on the pandemic and features Jones as a guest, who used the opportunity to scoff at the use of masks, which he claimed doesn't offer protection against COVID-19 according to "a lot of studies." He also deemed the pandemic a hoax and falsely claimed that an oral vaccine funded by Bill Gates caused polio.
Despite the numerous claims of misinformation, Spotify stood by Rogan, asserting that silencing him was not the ultimate solution. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek proposed adding more diverse voices to the platform in an effort to mask Rogan's harmful rhetoric.
"If we believe in having an open platform as a core value of the company, then we must also believe in elevating all types of creators, including those from underrepresented communities and a diversity of backgrounds," Ek wrote. He also added that the company is "committing to an incremental investment of $100 million for the licensing, development, and marketing of music (artists and songwriters) and audio content from historically marginalized groups" as part of an effort to diversify Spotify's content.
"While some might want us to pursue a different path, I believe that more speech on more issues can be highly effective in improving the status quo and enhancing the conversation altogether," he continued.
Although episodes of "The Alex Jones Show" is no longer available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Facebook and YouTube, the podcast is still up on Google Podcasts.