Spotify removes white supremacist bands after Charlottesville violence

Spotify removed 37 artists labeled as “white supremacist hate bands” from its platform on Tuesday, in part of a larger tech company backlash against white supremacists after the violence at Charlottesville last weekend.

The move came after Digital Music News published an article called “I Just Found 37 White Supremacist Hate Bands on Spotify,” which identified the musicians based on a 2014 report of hate bands from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Most of these groups found on Spotify had only fringe followings.

Shortly after the article was posted, Spotify swiftly kicked out the listed hate bands. Spotify explained to Billboard that while the addition of bands and records are primarily handled by record companies and aggregators, “illegal content or material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us.”

“Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention,” the company said. “We are glad to have been alerted to this content — and have already removed many of the bands identified today, whilst urgently reviewing the remainder.”

The SPLC report from 2014 primarily focused on hate bands listed in the iTunes Store, which Apple ultimately removed. But with the rise of streaming services such as Spotify, many of the blacklisted bands were able to spread their discography to various platforms.

Another music streaming platform, Deezer, proactively took down hate bands found in its platform after the Digital Music News article was published.

“Deezer does not condone any type of discrimination or form of hate against individuals or groups because of their race, religion, gender or sexuality,” said Deezer in a statement. “We are in the process of swiftly and actively reviewing the content on our platform and have begun and will continue to remove any material that is in any way connected to any white supremacist movement or belief system.”

It is unclear if Apple Music or other competing services have done similar takedowns in the days after Charlottesville.

Apple has not yet responded to our request for comment.

But Apple has taken a stance. Apple has blocked Apple Pay on sites promoting white supremacy.

And Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday wrote a letter to his employees denouncing white supremacists and announced that the company will be donating $1 milion to SPLC and $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League. He also mentioned that he disagreed with President Donald Trump’s handling after the Charlottesville attacks and his views of “many sides” causing the violence that killed one woman.

“I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans,” Cook said.

 

Photo: Daniel Ek, CEO and Founder of Spotify, speaks at a media event announcing updates to the music streaming application Spotify on May 20, 2015 in New York City.  (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

 

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