Spotify Prepares to Ban Political Content


Spotify’s platform has transformed content streaming, often highlighting their success with, “We are the world’s most popular streaming subscription service with more than 615 million users,” as stated by the media service provider here.

Now, Sweden-based Spotify is positioning itself as an election information gatekeeper, unveiling a significant censorship initiative against what the streaming giant considers “disinformation.” This comes just in time for a U.S. presidential election where significant financial interests are aligned against former President Donald Trump’s return to office.

Sound familiar?

‘Attempts to Manipulate or Interfere’

On May 31, Spotify announced its plan to protect election integrity in 2024. This initiative closely mirrors what Big Tech companies — influenced by federal agencies — did during the 2020 election, where social networks and internet providers suppressed content labeled as disinformation, misinformation, and the ominous “malinformation.” As we now know, much of the censored content wasn’t false but inconvenient truths for those intending to influence the election.

It appears Spotify is following a similar route.

Dustee Jenkins, Spotify’s chief public affairs officer, emphasized the global scope of the company’s censorship plan.

“With billions of people from over 50 countries heading to the polls to cast their vote, 2024 is shaping up to be the largest election year in history. Safeguarding our platform during critically important global events is a top priority for our teams, and we’ve spent years developing and refining our approach,” Jenkins states. “Knowing that election safety is top of mind for many of our creators and users, we wanted to provide further insights into our approach at Spotify.”

This approach includes Platform Rules prohibiting content that “attempts to manipulate or interfere with election-related processes.” Jenkins notes that the rules will vary from country to country. Teams will conduct risk assessments considering various “indicators,” such as the service’s “availability and specific product offerings in a country, historical precedents for online and offline harm during voting periods, and emerging geopolitical factors that may increase on-platform risks.”

The key to this initiative is constant monitoring.

“We monitor these factors on an ongoing basis and use our learnings to inform policy and enforcement guidelines, customize in-product interventions, and determine where we may benefit from additional resourcing and/or third-party inputs,” Jenkins adds.

‘Grossly Overstepped its Bounds’

In 2022, Spotify acquired Kinzen, an Ireland-based content moderation company that partnered with Spotify in 2020. Kinzen, established three years prior, aims to protect the public from “dangerous misinformation, hateful content, violent content, violent extremism and dangerous organisations,” according to its website.

Kinzen employs proprietary analytical tools to identify “dangerous misinformation.”

Sound familiar?

“Using their networks and analytical tools, Kinzen would be an outsourced third party for the state and tech platforms to thin the herd on anything they deem unacceptable online,” the Burkean, an online publication run by university students in Ireland, reported in 2021.

Learning from Twitter?

Kinzen is the brainchild of former RTÉ and Twitter executive Mark Little, “and a coterie of politically well-connected journalists,” reports the Burkean. Little, who worked at Twitter until 2016, notes on his Meta Threads account that he “Worked @Twitter in better days. Journalist in olden days.”

It seems he learned a lot during his tenure at Twitter. Recently, on his Meta Threads account, Little reposted a Washington Post article titled, “After Jan. 6, Twitter banned 70,000 right-wing accounts. Lies Plummeted.”

The study, highlighted by the government-friendly Post, suggests that “if social media companies want to reduce misinformation, banning habitual spreaders may be more effective than trying to suppress individual posts.”

Little also cited a study published in Nature, which he views as justification for combating misinformation. “In today’s polarized political climate, researchers who combat mistruths have come under attack and been labelled as unelected arbiters of truth. But the fight against misinformation is valid, warranted and urgently required,” the study claims.

Coincidentally, the journal Nature, on March 17, 2020, published a paper concluding that “SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.” This conclusion was endorsed by Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins, despite skepticism from top virologists. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic reported in April that the paper had significant conflicts of interest and aimed to discredit the lab leak theory.

The folks at Nature quickly clarified that their publication is “editorially independent of Nature Medicine, and Nature’s news team is independent of its journals team,” even though both are owned by the same company.

‘Grossly Overstepped Its Bounds’

Kinzen faced criticism for its role in helping Ireland’s Department of Health detect “disinformation” about Covid, as well as for the payments it received for this effort. According to investigative news outlet Gript, Kinzen lost its contract with the government following scrutiny over its services. As reported in October 2021, Ireland’s Minister of Health confirmed the partnership ended shortly after Gript published a story showing that the misinformation programme had “grossly overstepped its bounds.”

The article highlighted the issues with companies like Kinzen, noting, “These companies are being given increasing amounts of influence over public discourse, but they have no obligation to explain to the public what they are doing or to act in a transparent manner,” wrote Gary Kavanagh of Gript.

And it seems to be a growing trend.

The Truth Voices, The Daily Wire, and the state of Texas are involved in a lawsuit asserting that the U.S. State Department violates the U.S. Constitution by funding technology that silences Americans who question government narratives. My Truth Voices colleague Joy Pullmann reports:

Through grants and product development assistance to private entities including the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) and NewsGuard, the lawsuit alleges, the State Department “is actively intervening in the news-media market to render disfavored press outlets unprofitable by funding the infrastructure, development, and marketing and promotion of censorship technology and private censorship enterprises to covertly suppress speech of a segment of the American press.”

The lawsuit seeks to halt the government’s use of its counterterrorism centers in what it describes as “one of the most audacious, manipulative, secretive, and gravest abuses of power and infringements of First Amendment rights by the federal government in American history.”

The situation is similar at Spotify, which plans to leverage Kinzen to “reduce risk.”

Based on past experiences, the risk seems to arise from the so-called defenders against “disinformation.”

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