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Spotify Updates “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct” Policy

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As reported by our big siblings at Brooklyn Vegan, Spotify have updated their policies to include a rules regarding “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct.” The music streaming giant has specified that they “believe in openness, diversity, tolerance, and respect, and want to promote these values through music and the creative arts.” This is pretty boilerplate stuff for a massive corporation in the 21st Century, but things get interesting when Spotify explains how they will foster these values on their platform.

Although they make it explicitly clear that they won’t remove or censor any content on Spotify, this new policy states that they “may refrain from promoting or manually programming it in our service.” The most obvious consequence of this is that content deemed “hateful” by Spotify might get removed from one of their many curated playlists, along with algorithmically generated playlists like “Discover Weekly,” and could potentially be harder to find in their search engine.

In addition to “hateful” content itself, Spotify will also apply to these rules “when an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful.” They point out sexual violence and child abuse in particular as behavior that could damage an artist’s relations with Spotify under these new guidelines.

Following the announcement of this new policy, Spotify also announced that they are removing the music of R&B singer R. Kelly. This represents the most recent victory for the #MuteRKelly campaign organized by Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye, which seeks to effectively end Kelly’s career by canceling his concerts, getting his music removed from the radio, and pressuring Sony Music to drop him from their roster. Kelly has been accused of sexual assault and pedophilia for years as a result of the work of journalist Jim DeRogatis. Kelly has denied the accusations.

Pitchfork also reports that rapper XXXtentacion has also had his music removed from the astoundingly popular playlist RapCaviar. XXXtentacion has also had a career heavy with headline controversy, including accusations of domestic abuse and witness-tampering. Spin has also reported that rapper Tay-K, who has faced a capital murder charge, has also been removed from Spotify playlists.

You may not think that this has anything to do with heavy metal, but I would encourage you to get acquainted with this new Spotify policy just in case. After all, heavy metal has never been far from the edge of controversy and criminality.

All things considered, I think their decision to not actively remove music from their library even when they aren’t promoting it is a fair compromise between complete no-platforming and putting the responsibility in the hands of the users.

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