What an incredible time it is to be alive. With every new technological advance that is made, a myriad of new ethical problems arise. It is becoming increasingly difficult to make ethical choices around what to consume and how best to do it. This has not only become a headache for economists and ethicists but for every consumer out there looking to engage with the free market.
Joe Rogan’s face off with the hippy kingpins Neil Young & Joni Mitchell has demonstrated this perfectly. Rogan has transgressed the limits of what is clearly morally acceptable. He has rattled the disinformation ecosystem and remains unapologetic in doing it. Whilst the rest of the world have picked up their pitchforks against Rogan, an even more vital issue has arisen out of this crisis but also a fascinating one.
What is at stake here is the increasingly complex forces making capitalism and the free markets untenable. This is not even taking into account how much climate change will further weaken this dynamic.
What is at stake here is the increasingly complex forces making capitalism and the free markets untenable.
How do platforms like Spotify, Facebook and Twitter handle-free speech whilst also trying to make trillions of dollars? How do these platforms continue unabated harvesting your data when they make money hand over fist? Questions to this day remain unanswered. But it has become one of the most critical issues of our time.
I do love the way corporations like Spotify are trying to answer this. They claim they should leave these questions to the markets to decide whether it is right or wrong. They say they are neutral arbiters of information. One that pays $100 million in advances to Joe Rogan? Me no think so.
Some urgent and challenging debates need to be had over how we treat the disinformation ecosystem when it clearly comes up against the financial imperative to grow. When a platform like Spotify or Facebook has enormous distribution reach like we’ve never seen in human history and are also incentivised by the windfall of capitalism. How should we handle these sensitive balances?
There is no clear way to deal with this. Otherwise, it would have already been solved.
The markets have allowed people to make their own choices, but that is clearly not working. In a free democracy like Europe and the US, people are clearly not able to handle the evils of groupthink and echo chambers.
Facebook set up an oversight tribunal, Spotify has committed to putting advisory warnings on Rogan’s podcast, but these are all just virtue signals. The bottom line is that it’s about their bottom line – that’s why this is encroaching on something of an existential crisis for corporations. When Joe Rogan apologised after the uproar, shares for Spotify rebounded, you see where this is all going?
Spotify wants Joe Rogan. That is obvious; they would be stupid not to have him. He’s the most prominent podcaster in the world. And it’s clear we need unfiltered discussions; we need to encourage critical thinking, but critical thinking is not encouraged in society at this point. It’s clearly coming up against a bigger foe, which is virulent and complex information channels. People can decide what is right and what is wrong. What’s not clear and has proven itself time and time again is that the wrong information in the wrong hands can destroy people’s lives, and it is, people are literally dying because they are not vaccinated.
The bottom line is that it’s about their bottom line – that’s why this is encroaching on something of an existential crisis for corporations.
A sinkhole opens up when 270 scientists sign a petition to complain of Rogan’s disinformation channel.
What does Spotify do if some of the biggest stars in music and publishing, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Brené Brown start removing their content from a platform because their conscience has been corrupted? Who is winning? Who is losing? And by the way, a lot of artists don’t have the liberty of removing their music because they don’t technically own it.
The fact of the matter is this, someone somewhere in a boardroom in a faraway land is having this discussion with Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify. The question they are asking him is, how do we balance the beauty of free-market capitalism with the growing destructiveness of technology?
Written by founding editor Ari Stein