Prevent Pandemic of Podcast Disinformation

Target: Ben Ray Lujan, Chair of Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband

Goal: Limit spread of disinformation on podcasts via FCC regulation.

Spotify recently came under fire because one of its mega-popular podcasters, Joe Rogan, was spreading disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. The company responded by claiming it would issue advisories before the podcasts, but critics say this step is not nearly enough. People like Rogan are making millions of dollars from conspiracy theories and deliberate lies about a broad range of subjects, from the pandemic to the Ukraine invasion. Facebook, facing similar pressures, recently disbanded a sophisticated Ukraine disinformation network orchestrated by Russia. Podcasts have largely escaped the scrutiny and calls for regulation of these social media outlets. Advocates are hoping that the Spotify scandal will change this narrative.

An estimated two million podcasts are currently in operation in America. Any person with a microphone and the means can start a podcast, which works in a similar manner to a radio broadcast. But unlike radio, podcasts are not subjected to any regulation from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Meanwhile, extremists and conspiracy theorists, after being banned from other platforms, are finding welcome megaphones on podcasting services.

Free speech does not come without responsibility. One cannot yell “fire” in a crowded movie theatre, but many podcasters are starting fires with their inflammatory rhetoric in the online realm. Sign the petition below to demand lawmakers include this unchecked and unregulated sphere in their efforts to hold online media formats to account.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Lujan,

Facebook’s recent revelation that it had discovered and blocked a sophisticated Russian disinformation network relating to Ukraine on its platform reinforces the continued vigilance America’s leaders must maintain in combating such dangers. One outlet has been largely absent from these discussions, though: podcasts. A prominent podcaster with millions of listeners recently came under fire for spreading COVID-19 disinformation on a consistent basis. While his podcasts now contain “advisories,” they are still accessible to all.

Podcasting has become a lucrative Wild West realm for people and for organizations who want to make a profit or increase their power through lies and manipulation. This country has witnessed the devastating effects such con artists can unleash, as has the entire world as we watch massive tragedies play out in real-time. Congress is vowing to hold social media accountable by asking that social media outlets adhere by the FCC regulations and responsibilities as their more traditional media counterparts.

Please hold podcasters to the same standard.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Cottonbro


3 Comments

  1. Ajeet Singh says:

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  2. Lisa Allis says:

    Who is to be the King of Podcasts and wield the power to decide which podcast is good and which is bad? I don’t think Joe Rogan does anything with malice. He was born extremely poor and holds a rather Left/Liberal viewpoint. He certainly isn’t a right-winger. He is the least of your worries. The internet is one big mess. Good luck in fixing it.

  3. Evan Jane Kriss says:

    STOP THE SPREAD OF MISINFORMATION IMMEDIATELY, REGARDLESS THE SOURCE. It is sowing discord, it is harming the functioning of our democracy, it is fomenting hate and violence, and, as in the case of COVID, it is killing people.

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