Using and Abusing Your Platform

Podcaster Joe Rogan is facing public backlash following a recent episode of his show, “The Joe Rogan Experience.” The Dec. 31 episode of the Spotify podcast featured an interview with Robert Malone, an anti-vax physician who referred to the American vaccination efforts as “mass formation psychosis.”

“Spotify has a lot of younger listeners, so many of them will see Joe Rogan’s podcast and want to listen to it, even though he is spreading misinformation because he is not a scientist,” said junior Jenna Lee.

According to Rolling Stone, infectious disease epidemiologist Jessica Malaty Rivera and over 270 medical professionals signed an open letter to Spotify, demanding the platform assess the spread of Covid-19 misinformation.

CBS News reported that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek released a message to employees on Feb. 6, saying that he is “deeply sorry” for the controversy. However, he said, “I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer.”

“People who support Joe Rogan are putting their likeness in a celebrity over the scientific facts,” said Lee.

Despite Ek’s statement, Vulture reported that Spotify removed over 20,000 episodes from creators who spread Covid-19 misinformation since the start of the pandemic.

“People should have the freedom to post whatever they want within reason. Even though we have freedom of speech, there are still certain things we can’t say,” said junior Courtney Blount. “I believe in free speech, but social media compromises that in the fact that everyone has a platform. People have platforms who shouldn’t have platforms.”

“I think that celebrities are certainly entitled to their opinion… Having said that, we’re talking about issues that affect the public at large, and Joe Rogan is no longer a comedian in a comedy club,” said Communications Prof. Joseph Alicastro.

Rogan is believed to have invited Malone as a guest on his podcast because of the similar beliefs that they shared.

“Covid has become so political that people are trying to find information about Covid that supports their beliefs. That’s dangerous because we aren’t listening to all perspectives,” said Blount.

Malone was banned from Twitter for spreading Covid-19 misinformation, a recurrent issue within the world of social media amidst the pandemic.

Many Sacred Heart students and staff were pleased to see action being taken against Rogan.

“I agree with Twitter for the reason that some misinformation can be dangerous,” Blount said. “The only way we can combat that is with science and facts and people doing their own research.”

“I think it was absolutely justified that he was banned from Twitter,” said Alicastro. “Facts are facts. Facts are what lead us to the truth, so I think that spreading misinformation can be very very dangerous… especially during these times.”

The controversy didn’t come as a shock to many considering Rogan’s past incidents that resulted in public outcry.

“He’s been an anti-vaxxer. He’s been a climate change denier,” said Alicastro. “He’s now reaching millions of people on a podcast and with that comes a much greater responsibility.”

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