Spotify’s CEO says company botched ‘hateful conduct’ policy roll out

Two weeks after his company attempted to impose a policy targeted at curbing “hate content and hateful conduct,” Spotify’s CEO admitted the company mishandled its roll out.

During an interview at this week’s Code Conference, Daniel Ek told the crowd, “The whole goal with this was to make sure that we didn’t have hate speech on the service. It was never about punishing one individual artist, or even naming one individual artist as well.”

The policy, introduced on May 10, pulled certain artists from Spotify’s curated content streams over bad conduct in their personal lives. Pushback on the policy was almost instantaneous, and reports surfaced last week that Spotify was rethinking its approach. In particular, rapper XXXTencion, who was one of two artists single out by the service (along with R. Kelly), was reportedly going to be added back to Spotify’s popular Rap Caviar playlist at some unspecified point. 

Ek acknowledged that the implementation could have been handled better, and that Spotify’s intention was never to play the role of “moral police.” The executive added that the policy is continuing to evolve, with Spotify soliciting user feedback. Among the many thorny issues the company is navigating here is how to address those artists who have been accused — but not actually charged or convicted — of a given crime.

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