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Spotify rescinds hateful conduct policy in wake of censorship controversy

Spotify has formally halted its hate content and hateful conduct policy, just weeks after the streaming giant ceased promotion of R. Kelly and XXXTentacion‘s music following sexual misconduct and domestic abuse allegations made against both artists. Although R. Kelly’s music continued to perform well in spite of its removal from all Spotify branded algorithmic and curated playlists, the policy that deemed both R. Kelly and XXXtentacion to be in conduct related violation proved to be controversial among many who accused Spotify of practicing censorship through the policy. Kendrick Lamar notably threatened to pull his music from the platform if Spotify continued to enforce the policy.

Spotify formally announced the abrogation of the policy in a full statement published on June 1. “Spotify recently shared a new policy around hate content and conduct,” the notice begins, “And while we believe out intentions were good, the language was too vague, we created confusion and concern, and didn’t spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines.”

Spotify discerns between the two branches of the double pronged policy, noting that the first, “hateful conduct,” was “…related to promotional decisions in the rare cases of the most extreme artist controversies.” Spotify additionally specifies the second part of the policy, “hate content,” to be “hate speech…whose principal purpose is to incite hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” Spotify is adamant that “hate speech” is that which is “not to be mistaken with “offensive, explicit, or vulgar content.” While Spotify will continue to remove material classified as “hate content,” it will no longer “play judge and jury.”

“Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists,” Spotify’s statement continues, “Therefore, we are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct.” Spotify did not expressly state whether R. Kelly and XXXTentacion’s music will regain accessibility in algorithmic playlist creation on the platform, and if so, when that reversal will occur, but the reversion will assumedly occur, given Spotify’s renunciation of the policy.

H/T: BBC News

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