Censorship controversy surrounding Spotify

Kyrsten White, Staff Reporter

The First Amendment has always been a topic that brings up controversy, especially in the context of social media and its censorship. 

Many people believe that with the First Amendment’s protection, they have the choice of saying whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. This has become an increasingly growing issue on the internet and social media platforms. Unfortunately, many people do not understand that censorship comes at the discretion of the platform. 

Most censorship revolves around what the app decides to create as its terms and service. Twitter is a place where many people do not understand that what they say may have the chance of being removed. If someone says something that is inappropriate or a violation of those terms and services, the app has the choice to take it off.  

It has been highly debated whether the power is protected under the First Amendment. As it stands today, private companies can freely censor their users while retaining their rights. With the ongoing accusations of fake news and the free speech argument, social media has become the centerpiece of this heated conversation. 

Recently, Spotify had a problem with a few of its artists who had an issue with something that had been said on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Rogan had said false information about Covid-19 in an episode of his podcast, and a few artists asked Spotify to remove the episode. When the streaming service did not respond to their requests, artist Neil Young requested them to remove his music in protest of the episode, despite a huge financial loss for him. 

After Young’s music removal, a few more artists had their music taken away as well, including Joni Mitchell, India Arie and Graham Nash. Shockingly, though, Spotify had recently decided to simply take about 113 episodes of Rogan’s podcast from their service, without any warning.  

Spotify’s terms and services are different from other apps’ terms. They must have something that can retain to both music writers and podcast recorders while most other apps must have something that retains to anyone who wishes to post what they want on the app.  

Keeping all of this in mind, the First Amendment debate seems like one that should not have to be discussed. It is truly clear that when it comes to private apps, there is no argument. There is no feasible way for the First Amendment to override the actions of private apps’ terms and service conditions.