After Baylor microbiology professor and public health advocate Peter Hotez, Ph.D. he chirped a Motherboard article on Spotify’s lack of moderation of Joe Rogan’s misinformation following podcast episode with guest Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Rogan challenged him to discuss Robert F. Kennedy Jr. offering to donate $100,000 to a charity of Hotez’s choice if he agreed.
In the episode, Rogan and Kennedy hit all the pandemic classics: vaccine conspiracy theories, 5G and Wi-Fi technology, and ivermectin. All the common tropes of conspiracy theories about the Covid pandemic.
Twitter owner Elon Musk joined the fray on Twitter, accusing Hotez of “hating charity” by not embracing the debate, and after hours of Elon and Rogan mocking Hotez, the professor tweeted“I was just stalked outside my home by two anti-vaxxers mocking me for debating RFKJr.”
This adds a disturbing new dynamic to this story, especially in the context of Motherboard story that started this, which touched on Spotify’s distortions to allow Rogan’s misinformation to remain on the platform. The article quoted a Spotify spokesperson as saying that since Rogan and Kennedy never said covid vaccines were designed to kill people, the episode is not against the rules.
Spotify signed a $100 million deal with Rogan more than three years ago and instituted a new set of misinformation policies after the music of several high-profile stars was removed from the platform in protest of Rogan’s vaccine claims, which were not previously reviewed by Spotify.
Even with policies in place, conspiracies are highlighted The Joe Rogan Experience may go viral as social media spreads the claims. To date, according to JREmissing, a site that tracks episodes of the podcast that have been removed, 111 episodes have been taken down.
Following Hotez’s original tweet, Rogan tweeted and retweeted criticism and innuendo about Hotez — who has been a guest on the podcast in the past — several times over the next few hours before Hotez tweeted that he was being stalked.
We’ve reached out to Spotify for comment on the story and will update with a response if we receive one.
Update June 18, 2023, 2:56 a.m. ET PT: Updated the title and added more details on Rogan’s recent podcast episode.