Cancel Spotify Subscription

Posted on August 1, 2018


There is a Twitter storm brewing about Spotify hosting the InfoWars podcast. When members threatened to cancel their service, Spotify removed some episodes that they said violated the company’s hate speech policies. The idea of enforcing a hate speech policy on an episode-by-episode basis really defangs the impact of a having such a policy. My Spotify subscription was shareholder approved (68%) so my exit will also be a shareholder mandate.

To be clear, this is not a protest. I will not return to Spotify if they remove Alex Jones. That they didn’t care to police their own policies until called upon by activists highlights their focus on user growth over any ethical values they have written up in the employee handbook. As a publicly traded company (NYSE: SPOT) they have every right to choose profits over values. And as a customer it’s my right to cancel my subscription.

Additionally, I’ll transfer my $10/month Spotify subscription to a $10/month donation to the ACLU. Defending free speech is important to me, but I won't participate in the commercialization of hate speech.

Past Discussion

E*Rock ☕️ (2 shares, voted no)
Does this mean that you are giving up listening to music?
Hett (4 shares, voted yes)
I'd rather you put the 10$ a month into your savings or a brokerage account. It's all about the long game. Unless you're worth millions and can donate money however you please it makes more sense to save your money and volunteer your time with the ACLU. Two birds kinda thing.
419 (3 shares, voted yes)
Agreed with Hett. The money saved from Spotify should go towards other music-related purchases and/or savings.
awnelson17 ☕️🌮🕴 (10 shares, voted yes)
Hate speech has become a convenient label the left arbitrarily assigns to people they don't agree with. Nearly every right wing talk show, even if they are not bat shit crazy like Jones, are labeled hate speech. Bat shit crazy left wingers are just as bad as Jones, and they never get called "hate speech." I despise the double standard. I'm voting for this because I think you should be allowed to choose to not support Spotify, but not because I think it is right to support the hate speech police.
Richard S. Jensen ☕️ (6 shares)
Canceling your subscription will give you the opportunity to listen to the ads abailable through the free version. Americans work hard to inform you about the products on offer. Show them some courtesy. It's a win-win!
joshuaberger ☕️ (11 shares, voted yes)
I agree with your position and I am in favor of the donation to the ACLU. To add additional impact to your ethical decision, I would suggest you publicly announce that you cancelled your Spotify subscription because of their lack of responsibility and you are instead donating the money you were spending to the ACLU. In this public post both Spotify and the ACLU should be tagged in an effort to encourage others to make similar choices.
curtiszimmerman 🎖💯 (108 shares, voted yes)
I am voting "yes" but I must make it perfectly clear that I am voting "yes" because I oppose selective editorialization that censors speech -- even if it is some kind of crazy ass persuasive Nazi hate speech -- whether it is done in search of profit or forced on organizations by shithead congresspeople that voted down the precious Section 230 Safe Harbor protection we used to enjoy. By implementing systemic censorship, we lose the only means through which the critical thinking of our youngest citizens become well-oiled, fine-tuned, just discriminators for the good of our society. Also, importantly, I feel that the EFF is in a much better position to receive the $10/month donation compared to the ACLU. As a long, long-time member and supporter of both organizations, I feel this issue specifically is really more the EFF's bread and butter. I don't know the process for amending shareholder votes to change these kinds of details, but I would initiate that process if I had that information, specifically to s/ACLU/EFF/ in this vote text.
suesy_x (3 shares, voted no)
Is it wrong tot support a company that at least tries to listen to its users, and that deletes many episodes of the podcast after their protests. I don't think so. They also host many inspiring podcasts and the best music. ITunes and Stitcher still host Infowars, acting like their nose bleeds, playing innocent. Why is that. Better business model? Less conscientious users?
E*Rock ☕️ (2 shares, voted no)
Info Wars isn't making shit from Spotify, so you're basically punishing the artists that would actually be supported by streaming revenue through this channel. There's plenty of reason to quit Spotify, just because you don't a Podcast that they host is an unproductive excuse.
cecca ☕️ (4 shares, voted yes)
Generally find Spotify annoying, no solid reasons. Heard it was not good for artists, but I don’t even remember why. Voting no because that’s been my personal choice all along.
nickdouglas (23 shares, voted yes)
Do what you like with Spotify, but know that Apple and Google left a Qanon app in their store for months before public attention made them take it down. And we all know how well Facebook dealt with hate speech. Every tech giant is complicit in spreading hateful conspiracy theories that prop up a white supremacist leader and erode democracy.
RevGonzo19 (4 shares, voted no)
I'm not so sure about this one. You make valid points in your argument that selective enforcement of a no hate speech policy neuters the idea, but on the other hand, Spotify is responding to user input and taking some sort of action. There's probably going to be pro Info Wars individual who will now cancel their Spotify subscription because Spotify decided to remove Jones' podcasts. This seems like too much of a token gesture for me. But then again, maybe I'm a cynic.
brendanjones (50 shares, voted no)
Voting no because there is no value to shareholders from giving away $10 every month and receiving nothing in return.
jrg3 (15 shares)
Either way is fine with me, however I dislike that the description is written with the assumption that the shareholders will vote yes; it is written somewhat like a loaded question. I hope we can avoid that in the future.
imcclintic (5 shares, voted yes)
I support the decision to cancel Spotify on political and economical grounds. But, the $10/month should be invested in a mutual fund within a brokerage account, rather than being donated to the ALCU.
bwillob (1 shares, voted yes)
I feel like the SPLC would be a more appropriate choice given their aim is to fight hate. Heck, they have a page dedicated to Alex Jones:
Mike Merrill 🎖🌮🌴
The EFF/SPLC alternatives are really great points. It's somewhat of a limitation that I can only pose yes/no votes at this point, but it would have been great to get shareholders to select where that money goes (donation, investment, or very small shareholder dividends?).
Mr. Fazuku (21 shares, voted no)
LASIK, because I thought you wore corrective lenses.
jer ☕️ (20 shares, voted no)
I'm a firm believer that when media offends you, you turn it off, not expect that someone will prevent you from being able to see it. I agree with the sentiment of not supporting hate speech, but Spotify _isn't_ supporting hate speech in this case. They're "supporting hate speech" the same way the library does; by not preventing people from accessing content that makes people uncomfortable.
Pat Castaldo 💯☕️ (118 shares, voted yes)
Forget the crappy podcast hosting angle — one absolutely cannot use Spotify and claim to be “pro artist” in any sense of the word. They are now and have always been a garbage company. They continue to try and fuck artists any chance they get. Lowering royalties, pushing their mixtape garbage that’s Payola 2.0, and just generally acting like a fucked-up start-up that would get much more pressure in any other scenario if it weren’t people’s laziness when it comes to music and their cheap-ass desire to get “all you can eat.” They’ve inserted themselves as a defacto middle-man across the music industry, and are now trying to do the same with podcasts. It’s disgusting. Cancel the subscription and never look back. Honestly I can’t believe it was approved in the first case.
Mike Merrill 🎖🌮🌴
@jer I disagree it's like a library. If a library created an archive of all of the most hateful of media in the world I'd be fine with that. If a private company did that and then had paid user accounts I wouldn't be okay with that. Spotify makes money by providing media to users. Free media is great for them, because it provides content for users without any costs for them! While they don't pay for the podcasts they serve on their platform, they do allow some and not allow others. Part of that choice is their own stated zero tolerance of hate speech. I like a company that states an ethical stand, but I don't like when a company states their ethics, then does something I feel like violates those ethics. In my mind Spotify has the right to host/share any content they want. If the government came in and demanded that Spotify no longer host the InfoWars podcast on their platform I would defend Spotify's right to host it, while also having no interest in being their customer. Their policy ("Spotify does not permit content whose principal purpose is to incite hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.") prompted them to remove a number of episodes from their platform. That is an acknowledgement that Spotify has determined that Alex Jones was participating in what they consider to be "hate speech". I find this "letter of the law" approach to only removing specific instances of a person spewing hate speech to be a mild and cowardly enforcement of their own policies. My greatest hope is that this effort is a small ragged fingernail on the invisible hand of the market as it clenches into a fist and eventually chokes off the commercial enterprises of Alex Jones. I doubt that will happen, but it's my hope...
flebbebe (30 shares, voted no)
"nay" because the ACLU is moving away from their staunch first amendment defense. I also don't see anything inconsistent between their policy and their actions, thought I appreciate your argument.
Mike Merrill 🎖🌮🌴
Counter to my own argument I do appreciate this part of Spotify's policy: "These are complicated issues, and we’re going to continue to revise our Policy on Hate Content and Hateful Conduct. We’ll make some mistakes, we’ll learn from them, and we’ll always listen to you as we work to keep building the Spotify platform."
ted (18 shares, voted no)
how is the cabin though?
jer ☕️ (20 shares, voted no)
@mike can you only get podcasts on Spotify with a premium account? If that's true, then I agree that my library metaphor is incorrect.
XAdrianT (20 shares, voted no)
Honestly, this should've been two votes - the Spotify dropping decision, and the "what will I do with the extra $10/month" decision, since it seems that there is a fairly large segment of the voting population (at least, as per the comments) who would've voted one way on the first vote, and the other on the latter. Voting "nay" here because of the justification (hate speech is still protected under free speech, and ACLU is, unfortunately, a shadow of what it once was), as well as because of the limited ability for shareholders to actually voice their full opinion - see comments above for example of that. Also, a way to get around the yes/no voting intention limitation could simply be to do the vote in the comments of an empty vote, where various shareholders can pledge their shares towards ideas expressed in the comments section. Granted, tallying up the votes would be tedious, but that would allow for votes with multiple options - we could then follow that up with a 2-round system where the top ideas are then voted in the more traditional method. Would also be interested (and I'm probably not alone in this) in why the yes/no limitation exists? Simply adding more options and changing the web-page to reflect that wouldn't be too difficult, and if there is concern about pluralities dominating the vote, a 2-round system could simply be implemented - would be interested to hear other shareholders' opinion on that as well, but way I see it: More accurate depictions of shareholder interests = More confidence from shareholders = This project of democratizing decision-making would be more successful + Could draw in more interest as well, expanding community/scope of project. Obligatory apologies for word wall, but wanted to spitball some ideas.
E*Rock ☕️ (2 shares, voted no)
Cancel your Twitter account. Is anyone seriously outraged that Spotify hosts Info Wars? All of this wave of media coverage is more great advertising for them. No one cared who Alex Jones was until he created his morally outraged yelling guy character. Isn't it all noise feeding back into the same feedback loo, that eventually leads to loudmouth idiots getting millions of dollars worth of free air time?
Gary Pratt (1 shares, voted no)
This question seems silly to me. First of all, this is a moral judgement that you should make on your own, not based on the votes of “shareholders”. My biggest concern is that none of these questions do anything to enhance the value of the stock. Shouldn’t that be the point of all this? To me, this entire project seems like a big fail to me.