Spotify is looking to overcome its misinformation woes

Spotify is looking to overcome its misinformation woes
FILE PHOTO: A headset is seen in front of a screen projection of Spotify logo, in this picture illustration taken April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Spotify is buying a company called Kinzen, an AI startup that specializes in getting software to recognize potentially harmful things that people say. Think things like calls to violence, racist language or even “dog whistles,” something seemingly tame on the surface that an audience understands to be much darker. Kinzen claims its tech can detect all of that.

So what does Spotify have in this game? Well, it’s looking to use it to do a better job of overseeing content on its platform, which is a tough task considering it saw over a million podcasts added last year from independent creators.

See, Spotify has gotten in hot water in the past because of some of the podcasts it hosts and, even more, the ones it chooses to invest in. The big kahuna in this instance is Joe Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.” Back in 2020, Spotify and Rogan signed a deal worth what some people believe is more than US$200 million to make the show exclusive on the platform. The idea for Spotify was to bring in a bunch of listeners from Rogan’s original stomping grounds on YouTube.

But Rogan is notorious for being loose-lipped and controversial. He’s used racial slurs repeatedly in the past, and during COVID, he brought on anti-vaxxers that spread misinformation about the vaccines. Well, more than 270 doctors disagreed and signed a letter urging Spotify to take the episode down. On top of that, several artists pulled their music from the platform.

So all that is to say Spotify is working on spotting and getting rid of misinformation. Hence, the Kinzen acquisition, which will mean that Spotify can use the tech to keep people from getting hurt because they took advice from the wrong podcasts. Whether the line falls nearer to content moderation or censorship – we’ll let you decide.