Spotify makes U-turn on hate policy

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By Carlos Ncube

Streaming service Spotify last week announced the removal of its disputed Hateful Conduct Policy that saw the likes of American singer R Kelly and rapper XXXtentacion’s music removed from Spotify-curated playlists.

“Spotify recently shared a new policy around hate content and conduct. And while we believe our intentions were good, the language was too vague,” the company said in statement.

In its initial policy, the company said hate content extended to hateful and harmful acts committed by content creators.

The policy was instated as a reaction to allegations of sexual assault levelled against R Kelly, whose streaming numbers reportedly continued to climb even after his music was pulled from Spotify’s playlists.

The streaming service, which was launched in South Africa this year, dug a rabbit hole for itself, as it could not account for the exact criteria it would employ to penalise artists.

XXXtentacion called Spotify out on grounds of hypocrisy and asked the service if it would scrub the music of other controversial big-name artists such as Michael Jackson and Miles Davies.

The original policy, which has since been updated to exclude hateful conduct, came as a response to social justice organisation Time’s Up Now and its public campaign against R Kelly. Now Spotify has come to its senses and it seems the Swedish company will think twice before it panders to the demands of social justice groups in the future.  

“As some have pointed out, this language was vague and left too many elements open to interpretation,” a Spotify statement reads. “We created concern that an allegation might affect artists’ chances of landing on a Spotify playlist and negatively impact their future. Some artists even worried that mistakes made in their youth would be used against them.”

The company also admitted that it had not followed due diligence in its implementation of the policy. “We created confusion and concern and didn’t spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines.”

But Spotify said it would still remove hate speech. “Spotify does not permit content whose principal purpose is to incite hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. As we’ve done before, we will remove content that violates that standard. We’re not talking about offensive, explicit, or vulgar content – we’re talking about hate speech,” Spotify said. – Music In Africa

 

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