Majority of antisemitic content on Spotify yet to be removed

Despite dozens of antisemitic podcast episodes and playlist titles being reported to Spotify, the platform hasn't deleted all of the hateful content, according to FOA.

 Man listening to music with headphones (Illustrative) (photo credit: STOCKSNAP)
Man listening to music with headphones (Illustrative)
(photo credit: STOCKSNAP)

A report conducted by an organization that combats different types of online antisemitism has determined that the streaming platform Spotify has not addressed reports of antisemitic content with the seriousness expected.

Analysis of online content during February and March by Fighting Online Antisemitism revealed a grim picture of antisemitic posts in diverse languages worldwide. The content was discovered on playlists and podcasts from various usernames. Upon FOA reporting this, Spotify removed 21.6% of the content in March 2022 alone  - yet it is unclear from the report if other content was removed since. Sources in the company state that many of these examples have been already removed.

Since Spotify is a streaming service, user data is minimal. FOA identified two types of antisemitic content on the site: playlists with antisemitic titles, even though the songs themselves were not of antisemitic nature, and antisemitic playlists - lists with antisemitic titles and music calling for violence, the killing of Jews and ridicule towards the Holocaust. A total of 111 pieces of antisemitic content was found.

What kind of antisemitic content was featured on Spotify?

Also monitored were podcasts with antisemitic titles, such as lectures on antisemitic conspiracy theories. 

Among the titles were: "Burn the Jews, they will not survive this time," "Hitler was right," and "More gas for the Jews,'" "Hitlerin 6 milyon yahudiyi oldururken dinledigi," ("The playlist Hitler listened to" while killing 6 million Jews) and "Tote Diese Juden" ("Kill these Jews" in German).

A headset is seen in front of a screen projection of Spotify logo, in this picture illustration (credit: REUTERS)A headset is seen in front of a screen projection of Spotify logo, in this picture illustration (credit: REUTERS)

Also identified were playlists with titles referencing Hitler or Nazis, with swastikas as a title, or under National Socialist black metal (NSBM). After reporting the title of the playlists to Spotify, many of them were deleted or renamed but are still available online and contain antisemitic music.

Podcast episodes with antisemitic titles were centered on antisemitic conspiracy theories, using headlines like: "The Rothschild family will die" - a conspiracy theory about the Rothschild family and its clergy's plan to destroy the white race.

Also uncovered was a podcast in Spanish also about the Rothschild family and its plan for world dominance. In addition, there was a podcast discussing Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories about how Jews are planning the destruction of humanity.

Spotify was founded in 2006 in Sweden. With more than 400 million active monthly users and 180 million premium subscribers, Spotify is considered to be the biggest music and podcast streaming service in the world.

While it removed or requested a few users to change the names of playlists reported by the organization, many are still available online. The most popular social networks, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others, make it easier to access the content and contact the administrator in order to file a complaint.

"In Spotify's case, we have put extra effort due to the nature of the platform. However, Spotify has not yet responded to our removal request. We call on Spotify to remove all offensive content and provide a hate-free space online."

Sources in FOA

According to the report, the most popular form of antisemitism on the platform was found in titles of playlists (67.5% of the incidents) followed by podcast episodes (15.3%).

Fighting Online Antisemitism

Fighting Online Antisemitism is an Israeli organization that aims to remove antisemitic content, eradicate online manifestations of racism and hatred, and raise awareness of the phenomenon of online hate, values of tolerance and pluralism. The organization offers training on methods to deal with racism and hatred to hundreds of volunteers from Israel and worldwide, mainly focusing on the younger generation.

The conclusion of the FOA report urges Spotify to “remove the flagged content as soon as possible and to improve their automatic detection system of hateful content. Removing the content will assure that Spotify is a cleaner and a safer net for its users and managers.”

"Spotify prohibits any content on our platform which expressly and principally advocates or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability. All content found in violation of our policies has been removed."

Spotify statement, June 8