Spotify suspended political ad sales in 2020 because the platform found it too hard to “validate and review” the deluge of misinformation they were facing. Well, the good news is that misinformation has been totally solved, because why else would Spotify now quietly reintroduce political ads in the run-up to the 2022 midterms? Money? Oh, right, money.
As Protocol reports, the Big Green Circle is now asking US candidates, political parties, and even PACs to open their wallets. “Following our pause of political ads in early 2020, we have spent the past two years strengthening and enhancing our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We are now beginning to sell select political advertisements in opted-in third-party podcasts via the Spotify Audience Network in the U.S.”
The company explained that these ads will only run on their podcast network and not on the free music streaming tier. The podcasts themselves will have the option of turning them off. Besides that, Spotify will only host ads by known political entities, and will not consider ads from issue-related groups, whatever that means. Is the NRA a known political entity or an issue-related group? Consequence has reached out for clarification but has so far received no answer. We’ll update this story if Spotify responds.
While Spotify claims to be taking steps to halt the spread of misinformation, there are reason to be skeptical. Other companies including Google and Meta have created public archives of political ads, and just this week Meta announced that it will allow researchers to access political ad targeting data. Spotify has stopped short of this transparency initiative, though a spokesperson said the company might consider it in the future.
Besides that, we have very recent examples of the streamer choosing money over morals. Spotify platformed so much vaccine misinformation on The Joe Rogan Experience that it sparked a mass exodus from the platform earlier this year. The company even stuck with Rogan despite his use of the N-word, so don’t be surprised if this new openness to political ads gets pretty wild.