Spotify is reportedly fighting with employees about hosting episodes of Joe Rogan's podcast that some consider transphobic

Joe Rogan is he host of the wildly popular "Joe Rogan Experience."Michael S. Schwartz / Getty Images
  • Spotify is wrestling with employees' concerns about how the company is handling episodes of "The Joe Rogan Experience" that some described as transphobic, Vice reported.
  • Spotify CEO Daniel Ek addressed concerns in an all-hands meeting on Wednesday, sources told Vice.
  • Ek said Rogan's podcast had been the subject of 10 meetings and told employees not to leak to the press, Vice reported.
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Spotify is facing a heated internal struggle with employees over whether it should host episodes of "The Joe Rogan Experience" that some staffers described as transphobic, Vice reported.

Vice reported that CEO Daniel Ek addressed staff concerns at an all-hands meeting on Wednesday. "In the case of Joe Rogan, a total of 10 meetings have been held with various groups and individuals to hear their respective concerns," Ek said, per three sources who spoke to Vice on the condition of anonymity.

Vice said its sources shared questions that had been submitted for the Q&A portion of the meeting. The questions, which shortened the name of the podcast to "JRE," suggest that friction is building between Spotify's leadership and its staff over the podcast.
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"Why has Spotify chosen to ignore Spectrum ERG's guidance about transphobic content in the JRE catalog?" one question said, referring to an internal employee-representation group.

"Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership's response in JRE conversations. What is your message to those employees?" another read.

Sources told Vice that Spotify staff highlighted one episode in which Rogan interviewed Abigail Shrier about her book "Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters."
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"Joe Rogan and the episode in question have been reviewed extensively," Ek said in the all-hands, according to the report. "The fact that we aren't changing our position doesn't mean we aren't listening. It just means we made a different judgment call."

Ek also told employees not to leak to the media if they want to be included in company conversations about moderation, Vice reported. "If we can't have open, confidential debates, we will have to move those discussions to closed doors," he said. Rogan, who has 9.5 million subscribers on YouTube, signed an exclusive deal with Spotify in May. This was seen as a huge win for the platform as it builds out its podcasting empire and competes with Apple, Amazon, and Google.
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The back-and-forth indicates Spotify will increasingly have to deal with moderation issues not dissimilar to those at social-media companies like Facebook and Twitter. The company doesn't feature older episodes of Rogan's podcast featuring the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — whose own podcast got booted from the platform in 2018 for breaching its rules on "hate content" — and it has removed some other episodes featuring far-right figures, Vice said.

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