Why the Joe Rogan Spotify drama is a public health concern

key takeaways

  • Joe Rogan is the latest public figure to be criticized for promoting COVID-19 misinformation on his exclusive Spotify podcast.
  • More than 250 health professionals have signed an open letter to Spotify asking the company to develop clear policies to moderate misinformation on its platform.
  • Misinformation isn’t new, but it can affect someone’s health decisions and safety amid a pandemic, experts say.

Some celebrities have spread health misinformation throughout the pandemic, singer Nicki Minaj tweeted rumors that COVID-19 caused erectile dysfunction last September, and host Joe Rogan on his Spotify-exclusive podcast “The Joe Rogan” Experience” continues to spread disinformation about COVID-19. ”

More than 250 health professionals have signed an open letter to Spotify criticizing Rogan’s podcast for “promoting unfounded conspiracy theories.” They demand that companies have clear policies to moderate misinformation on their platforms.

Rogan issued an apology via Instagram after several singers pulled their music from Spotify as a form of protest. Spotify didn’t remove any controversial episodes, but announced it would flag COVID-19-related content and links to health resources, This Wall Street Journal report.

Dr. Jason Diaz, a virology expert at LaSalle University, wrote on Twitter that he recently learned that an unvaccinated family member died of COVID as the Joe Rogan drama unfolded. In the tweet, Diaz said he wished he could have done more to address their hesitations.

“It’s so hard when you have someone you want to convince [that] There’s a different way of looking at something — a vaccine in this case — and making them persistently resistant, and then you’ll see the results,” Diaz told VigorTip.

Diaz said he doubts his family has listened to Rogan’s podcast, but he is one of many who have battled with his family over misinformation during the pandemic.

“We’re seeing the consequences from multiple fronts, not just the coronavirus, and the consequences are especially dire,” he said.

Misinformation isn’t new, but it costs lives

To combat misinformation, experts say it is important to call on scientific bodies to provide clear guidance, scrutinize information through reputable sources and engage in good faith conversations with those who appear to be spreading fake news.

RTI International researcher Dr Brian Southwell told VigorTip the phenomenon of spreading misinformation is not new, but social media allows false claims to spread much faster than in the past.

“You have the ability to spread it quickly to 1,000 of their closest friends on social media,” Southwell said. “The cadence is different. The confusion about the source can be different. But I think we’ve had a panic over misinformation for a while.”

The threat of misinformation varies by topic, Southwell added. If a piece of fake news affects a person’s health decisions or safety, that would be the most terrifying. It’s important that people and groups adjust their responses to misinformation based on the severity of the topic, he added.

COVID-19 has claimed more than 880,000 lives in the United States. Vaccine hesitancy remains a major hurdle in the country’s response to the pandemic, despite research and real-world data showing that the vaccine is effective against hospitalizations and deaths.

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Because of the fear and lack of trust that has been simmering over the past two years, some people may be more likely than others to believe misinformation in the pandemic, Southwell said.

“It’s scary,” Southwell added. “There’s a lot of emotion going on and people have been worried.”

A lack of clear and concise information from health officials may have contributed to the problem, he said. As research on COVID-19 continues to evolve, some groups are calling on federal health agencies to switch between recommendations or to be vague about certain public health guidelines.

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“Science is evolving, but people want answers right away because it [is a] Terrible situation,” Southwell said. “I think it’s led to a proliferation of some misinformation. ”

The existence of misinformation isn’t the only problem, Southwell added. “It depends on how people react and whether there is an ongoing dialogue that respects any curiosity, concern or concern that people may have,”​​he said.

Dealing with misinformation on social media

While social media can promote the spread of fake news, it can also promote accurate information and public health information.

“Social media are often platforms that can be abused by people; they can also do a great job of spreading useful information,” Southwell said, adding that he has seen examples of people quickly suppressing rumours online.

Some social media platforms have policies aimed at reducing misinformation. Instagram includes “false information” warnings in posts that may contain false information and links to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) resources in posts that mention COVID-19 or vaccines. YouTube released a policy in October 2021 to remove videos containing vaccine misinformation.

Southwell said people who are unsure whether the information they receive is true should consult other news sources, such as reputable magazines or newspapers, or search engines such as Google. It’s also important to take the time to fact-check and compare different sources before people share information on their own social media pages, he added.

What can health authorities do to better combat misinformation?

Acknowledgment and Empathy

If people are interested in a piece of misinformation, Southwell said, the first step is to understand why they are interested in it.

He added that this applies to both individuals and institutions, as taking the time to listen and understand is critical to building trust.

“If you’re speaking as an authority, and you say, ‘I need to correct this misinformation that exists,’ the audience also needs to understand why you’re doing it and what interests you have in common with them,” Southwell added. . “To what extent [does your audience] believe you care [they] Is it life or death, or is there another secret? ”

Empathy is key when listening to people who have questions about vaccine safety or public health measures.

The White House has been criticized for playing down the pandemic early and failing to implement an effective pandemic response. But instead of addressing the reasons for vaccine hesitancy, the current government blames the unvaccinated and calls the current crisis an “unvaccinated pandemic”, atlantic organization Author Ed Yong wrote.

clear and clear

Vague or broad criticism of policies or public figures can be unhelpful, misleading, or even a way to spread more misinformation.

For example, the CDC has vacillated between its COVID-19 guidelines since the early days of the pandemic. Dina Velocci, DNP, CRNA, APRN, president of the American Association of Nurses Anesthesiology (AANA), previously told VigorTip that the agency’s recent move to shorten quarantine periods shows “an incredible level of fragmentation of rules, ideas and theories.”

The CDC’s confusing policy stance and public health messaging have allowed disinformation to proliferate throughout the pandemic. Health journalist Dylan Scott writes that building simple and effective public health messages is critical to rebuilding trust between agencies and the public.

get the message out

If a health agency like the CDC wants to correct COVID-19 misinformation, it needs to “fight the fire on exposure” to be heard, Southwell said.

“If you’re trying to deal with a claim that you’ve received a Super Bowl-sized audience, and you’re posting something in a carefully cautioned footnote on your website, then exposure alone won’t get the job done,” Southwell added.

But just as misinformation isn’t new due to the pandemic, even if Rogan’s podcast is taken down, it probably won’t go away. Going forward, developing more empathy and trust with other people and health agencies will be critical to helping people access fact-checked public health information.

“There’s room everywhere for people to do better,” Southwell said. “Part of the reason is that scientific institutions themselves could also think about better engaging members of the public so people don’t have to be misled by what they might hear on podcasts.”

what does this mean to you

As you read or hear public health messages about COVID-19, be sure to verify any claims before sharing them with your friends and family. Take the time to fact-check and compare different sources to avoid spreading misinformation that could affect someone’s health decisions.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may have updated information as you read this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus news page.