- Tech platforms are still hosting podcasts that peddle misinformation and violent rhetoric.
- The AP first reported that podcasts were a loophole for conspiracies, despite wider tech crackdowns.
- Some are run by QAnon believers, and claim election rigging, and that the Capitol riots were “staged.”
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Conspiracy theorists and pro-Trump extremists are using podcasts hosted on mainstream tech platforms to push misinformation, despite a widespread crackdown on individual social media accounts that push these ideas.
The AP first reported that podcasts on Apple, Spotify, and Google were peddling claims that the US election was rigged, and that the January 6 US Capitol riots were staged, among other claims.
Insider likewise found podcasts easily available on all three platforms that claimed President-elect Joe Biden’s win was “a fraud.”
The podcast “Red Pill News”, hosted by a user called RedPill78, described the US Capitol riots as “a staged event” in an episode aired January 11. That’s still available on Apple Podcasts as of January 17.
The AP found another podcast, “X22 Report”, which said in one episode ahead of the Capitol riots: “We the people, we are the storm, and we’re coming to DC.” That is also available on Google’s podcasting platform as of January 17.
And Insider on Sunday found a third podcast, called “Quite Frankly” and hosted on Spotify, Apple, and Google, where the host characterized the election in a January 16 episode as “a stinky, smelly, suspicious election” in a wider rant about free speech. “Quite Frankly” has also hosted RedPill78 on prior episodes.
The ongoing availability of these podcasts contrasts with the strict stance taken by several major tech firms to crack down on social media accounts pushing conspiracies, or apps that peddle hate, in the wake of the Capitol riots on January 6.
Apple, for example, removed alternative social network Parler from its App Store on January 10, saying that the firm hadn’t done enough to moderate violent speech in the run-up to the riots. Pro-Trump rioters reportedly used Parler and other platforms to plan the insurrection.
Spotify, meanwhile, in November banned “War Room”, a podcast hosted by former White House adviser Steve Bannon. The show was also suspended from Twitter and YouTube after Bannon suggested beheading the government’s pandemic expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, and FBI director Christopher Wray.
Yet, while the X22 Report podcast remains available via Apple, it has been suspended by YouTube, Spotify, and Twitter. Red Pill News’ podcast description also states it is no longer available on YouTube.
A fourth podcast “SoulWarrior Uncensored” is run by self-declared QAnon believer Melody Torres. According to the AP, she said she has been booted from Twitter. The AP also reported that the podcast was still available on Apple and Google, but was removed from Spotify after an inquiry by the news outlet.
Oren Segal of ADL’s Center on Extremism told AP: “Podcasts filled with hatred and incitement to violence should not be treated any differently than any other content.
“If you’re going to take a strong stance against hate and extremism in the platform in any way, it should be all-inclusive.”
Insider approached Spotify, Google, and Apple for comment.