New York State Comptroller Demands Content Moderation Info From Spotify

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#ByeByeSpotify Neil Young removal#ByeByeSpotify Neil Young removal Photo Credit: Reet Talreja

Amid continued controversy concerning comments made on the Spotify-exclusive Joe Rogan Experience podcast, a New York government official has called on the streaming service “to explain if its content management practices effectively address risks and protect shareholder value.”

67-year-old Thomas DiNapoli, who’s served as New York State’s 54th comptroller since 2007, just recently prompted the Stockholm-based platform to elaborate upon its content-moderation policies. Having made the request in a letter to CEO Daniel Ek, DiNapoli also touched upon the subject in a tweet.

“Investors need more transparency and accountability for how @Spotify is enforcing its content rules,” he wrote. “Recent controversies show the company needs to explain if its content management practices effectively address risks and protect shareholder value.”

The letter itself has since made its way onto social media, though at the time of this piece’s writing, Spotify – which is reportedly close to securing FC Barcelona naming rights for $320 million – hadn’t publicly responded to the inquiry.

“I write as Trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, one of the largest public pension funds in the United States, which holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of its 1.1 million members, retirees and beneficiaries,” DiNapoli’s letter begins. “As an investor in Spotify Technology SA, I am writing to express my concerns regarding the ongoing controversies related to Spotify’s content management practices.”

(Given the initially noted pushback against The Joe Rogan Experience as well as investor worries about subscription-based streaming’s overarching business model, Spotify stock has parted with nearly 50 percent of its value during the last year. However, it bears mentioning that the long-unprofitable company’s stock-price hike only began in earnest in May of 2020, after the JRE deal was announced.)

“Recent media reports have highlighted numerous instances of Spotify hosting content that has included misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and antisemitic, racist and white supremacist content. These continuing controversies related to Spotify’s content management practices have garnered significant media attention, boycotts from users, and prominent artists asking to be removed from the platform,” the in-depth letter reads.

“As we have seen with other technology and media companies who host or publish content, the failure to successfully moderate content on a company’s platforms can lead to various reputational, regulatory, legal, and financial risks,” proceeds the document from the comptroller, who oversees retirement funds that held about $41 million in Spotify stock as of December 31st, per Reuters.

Recent days have seen Rogan respond to the criticism that he’s faced – and receive a $100 million offer to leave Spotify for Rumble.

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