#trustandsafety is going to be a big topic online going forward and how that translates into a form of censorship is up for debate. Spotify took it on the chin during the pandemic because of information presented by Joe Rogan that was deemed to be “disinformation” and it would appear that the streaming giant has decided to “censor” what users can see, read, or listen to on its platform.

The audio streaming platform has acquired Dublin-based Kinzen, a content moderation tech firm it has been working with since 2020. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Founded in 2017, Kinzen has grown from moderating election-related content to “targeting misinformation, disinformation and hate speech” online.

Kinzen is rather explicit about it role; it seeks to “identify, detect and prioritize policy violations in audio, video and text content.”

How does Kinzen define harmful content?

Dangerous misinformation: false, misleading or manipulated information with the potential to create real-world harm or interfere with elections or other civic processes, as well as coordinated disinformation campaigns designed to manipulate public conversations, undermine the democratic process, defraud citizens or threaten their health, security or environment.

Hateful content: promoting or inciting violence, hatred or discrimination against individuals and groups based on race, ethnicity, nationality or national origin, gender or sex, disability or serious disease, religious affiliation, sexual orientation. It includes mocking and promoting hate crimes.

Violent content: implicit or explicit statements inciting, admitting intent to commit, praising or glorifying violence against individuals or groups.

Violent extremism and dangerous movements: an individual or a group who justify the use of violence, advocate for others to use violence or spread conspiracy theories and hateful ideologies in order to radically change the nature of government, religion or society.

The AI scans text, video, and audio content in 28 languages and dialects and provides instantaneous alerts to the host enabling them to make decisions about blocking content or users much more quickly.

Spotify’s decision to acquire Kinzen raises some question about how the platform will moderate what it deems to be “harmful content” and it begs the question — who decides what that is?

Our podcast is available on Spotify and does that mean that the platform will now censor what we broadcast? We don’t allow profanity or hateful content on our podcasts but when conversations turn to political events or offer commentary on specific topics in the mainstream media that are relevant to our broader discussion — will Spotify flag our program and block it?

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Will the moderation software censor lyrics or even remove songs that are deemed to be “hateful content?”

Are adults no longer capable of deciding for themselves what is offensive and listening to something else? Or do we require Big Brother to sanitize what we see and listen to?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out but this feels like another reason to avoid Spotify and stick with TIDAL and Qobuz.

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