Spotify opened up a Pandora’s Box of controversy with its announcement Thursday morning of a new policy intended to keep artists engaging in “hate speech” and “hateful conduct” from its playlists. While the only artist initially named was R. Kelly, who has been accused but not convicted of sexual misconduct over decades, the policy was soon extended to XXXTentacion, who is facing charges in Florida including aggravated battery of a pregnant woman and witness tampering.
Contacted by the New York Times, a rep for the rapper responded: “I don’t have a comment, just a question. Will Spotify remove all the artists listed below from playlists?”
He then went on to list 19 artists — many of whom have not been convicted or formally accused of the offenses he lists — including Gene Simmons, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie, Real Estate, Backstreet Boys, Ozzy Osbourne, Ace of Base, Jimmy Page, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, Dr. Dre, 6ix9ine and others. XXXTentacion has not been convicted of the multiple outstanding charges against him.
A source close to the situation told Variety the company is weighing its options with other artists accused of what it deems “hateful conduct,” and noted that artists such as Pwr Bttm and Ducktails and comedians such as Bill Cosby and Louis C.K. — all of whom have been accused of sexual misconduct — were quietly removed from Spotify playlists in recent months. However, the subjectiveness of the term “hateful conduct” could apply to many different artists.
In announcing the policy (read the complete statement here), the company said: “To help us identify hate content, we have partnered with rights advocacy groups, including The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Anti-Defamation League, Color Of Change, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), GLAAD, Muslim Advocates, and the International Network Against Cyber Hate. We also built an internal content monitoring tool, ‘Spotify AudioWatch,’ which identifies content on our platform that has been flagged as hate content on specific international registers. And we listen to our users – if you think something is hate content, please let us know and we will review it carefully against our policy.”
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