Swedish entertainment company, Spotify announced their policy on Hate Content and Hateful Conduct earlier in May. “We do not tolerate hate content on Spotify – content that expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability,” as stated in a Spotify blog post.
On June 1, the streaming company published another blog post to clarify their position and put an end to speculations doing the rounds. “We created confusion and concern, and didn’t spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines.”
While the earlier blog post emphasised on culture and sensitivities, the recent post explained Spotify’s stand on the situation. “It’s important to remember that cultural standards and sensitivities vary widely. There will always be content that is acceptable in some circumstances, but is offensive in others, and we will always look at the entire context.”
Spotify was seeking help from the users of the music streaming services to identify hate content. In order to control content, the entertainment company reached out to rights advocacy groups including The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Anti-Defamation League, Colour of Change, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), GLAAD, Muslim Advocates, and the International Network Against Cyber Hate.
The company stated their primary intentions were good, but the language was vague which was misinterpreted by the majority. The blog post explained, “We don’t aim to play judge and jury. We aim to connect artists and fans – and Spotify playlists are a big part of how we do that. Our playlist editors are deeply rooted in their respective cultures, and their decisions focus on what music will positively resonate with their listeners.”
The music streaming service excluded the rapper XXXTentacion aka R Kelly and others from its playlists. The entertainment company built an internal content monitoring tool, Spotify AudioWatch which will distinguish content that has been addressed as hate content on specific universal registers.
“Spotify does not permit content whose principal purpose is to incite hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. As we’ve done before, we will remove content that violates that standard. We’re not talking about offensive, explicit, or vulgar content – we’re talking about hate speech.”