Civil rights group rebukes Spotify over white supremacist music

An investigation by the ADL Center on Extremism found dozens of white supremacist and neo-nazi bands sharing their music on the streaming platform.

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Image: Marco Di Benedetto / Alamy Stock Photo

Spotify has come under fire for allegedly allowing white supremacist content to go unchecked on its platform.

Despite its anti-extremism policy, the streaming giant has apparently been hosting a number of white supremacist artists and music on its site, according to a new report by civil rights group Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

An investigation by the ADL Center on Extremism found 40 white supremacist artists from a range of musical genres and sub-genres with a presence on Spotify, though as ADL investigative researcher Calum Farley told Washington Post, “there’s likely much more” white supremacist content on the platform than what was uncovered.

Many of the content identified by the ADL featured white supremacist references such as speeches by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, antisemitic lyrics, and track titles that reference Nazi Germany.

As for artists, some have amassed thousands of followers. Many of them have also earned statuses as “verified” artists, which means that their music can be included in Spotify’s official curated playlists, where they can make their way to unsuspecting listeners. For example, the music of neo-nazi metal band Wiking 1940 was included in a public “Black Metal Essentials” playlist which was curated by Spotify itself.

Even more worryingly, alongside promoting white supremacist ideology, racism, antisemitism, and fascism on the platform, these verified artists are also using their profiles to share links to other extremist spaces and radicalizing resources.

The report also pointed out gaps in the platform’s enforcement of rules, pointing out how users who want to proactively flag problematic content are only able to do so on the Spotify desktop app, which presents a major roadblock given that most users listen via the mobile app.

The group went on to criticise Spotify for allowing “extremist content to flourish.” All of which is happening despite the new anti-extremist guidelines the platform added to its rules in recent months.

“Between the extremist content found in some artists’ bios, the white supremacist messaging in some band’s lyrics and the white supremacist imagery found in the cover art, Spotify still has considerable work to do in implementing its new policy,” the report stated.

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