In a move that is relevant to recent events in Charlottesville, Spotify has removed all “hate music” from its streaming library, saying that “illegal content or material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us.”
A representative for Spotify told Billboard that their decision was prompted by an Aug. 14 article published on Digital Music News titled, “I Just Found 37 White Supremacist Hate Bands On Spotify.” The article lists bands that were found using the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of bands that it recommended be removed from iTunes in 2014.
From a legal standpoint, Spotify is protected in choosing to censor the music on its site. While the United States government is required to abide by the First Amendment, private companies can do as they please, provided that they are not using discriminatory practices. However, from an opposing angle, Spotify was under no legal obligation to remove the hate music. Internet sites oon which users share content are not liable for any offensive content that might be shared on their sites, and are protected from potential lawsuits from an offended party. Problems arise when the same issue is considered in markets around the world, where Spotify might step into murky waters regarding the legality of censorship.
Still, removing hateful music from their site is a bold move for the company, which will most likely inspire backlash from the alt-right. Kudos to you, Spotify. You’re doing exponentially more than our president in countering white supremacy.