| 22 Jul 2024
Spotify faces issues with employees about how the company is handling episodes of "The Joe Rogan Experience"

MUMBAI: Spotify is facing a heated internal struggle with employees over whether it should host episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience” that some staff consider transphobic, Vice reports.

According to Vice, CEO Daniel Ek addressed staff concerns at an all-hands meeting on Wednesday. “In the case of Joe Rogan, a total of ten meetings have been held with various groups and individuals to hear their respective concerns,” Ek said, per three sources who spoke to Vice on condition of anonymity.

Sources shared questions with Vice that had been submitted for the Q&A portion of the meeting. These questions, which shortened the name of the podcast to JRE, suggest friction is building between Spotify’s leadership and its staff over the podcast.

“Why has Spotify chosen to ignore Spectrum Erg’s guidance about transphobic content in the JRE catalog?” said one, referring to an internal employee representation group.

“Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership’s response in JRE conversations. What is your message to those employees?” read another.

Sources told Vice one episode in particular has been highlighted by Spotify staff, in which Joe Rogan interviewed Abigail Shreier about her book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.”

“Joe Rogan and the episode in question have been reviewed extensively,” Ek said in the all-hands. “The fact that we aren’t changing our position doesn’t mean we aren’t listening. It just means we made a different judgment call.”

Ek also appeared to warn employees not to leak to the media if they want to be included in company conversations about moderation. “If we can’t have open, confidential debates, we will have to move those discussions to closed doors,” he said.

Joe Rogan, who has 9.5 million followers on YouTube, signed an exclusive deal with Spotify in May. This was seen as a huge win for the platform as it builds out its podcasting empire, competing with Apple, Amazon, and Google.

The back-and-forth has shown Spotify will increasingly have to deal with moderation issues not dissimilar to those at social media companies like Facebook and Twitter. The company already removed older episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience” featuring the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, whose own podcast got booted off the platform in 2018 for breaching its rules on “hate content.”

Per Vice, it has also removed some other Joe Rogan episodes which feature far-right figures.