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How’s this for a Spotify playlist: SS Adolf Hitler Radio?

A Rolling Stone investigation turned up many examples of ‘hate music’ on streaming services

A playlist named for Adolf Hitler was available on Spotify until last week, when the streaming service removed it in response to an inquiry from Rolling Stone.

The full name for the playlist was “Musikkorps Der Leibstandarte — SS Adolf Hitler Radio.” Leibstandarte was Hitler’s bodyguard unit.

Rolling Stone said that a number of its staffers accessed the list, each receiving a different mix depending on Spotify’s algorithm. They described some of the music as “benign,” including various national anthems. Two playlists included music by a group called Das Luftwaffenmusikkorps 3, named for the Nazi air force. Rolling Stone said Spotify was also hosting a RaHoWa podcast, short for “Racial Holy War” and other music “espousing neo-fascist ideologies.”

Spotify’s rules prohibit content that “incites violence or hatred” based on race, religion, gender and other characteristics.

Spotify told Rolling Stone that it had “taken action on tens of thousands of podcast episodes, playlists, and hundreds of tracks for violating” those rules: “Spotify has made — and will continue to make — significant investments in both human and algorithmic detection measures to help ensure our platform provides a safe experience for all.”

Three-month investigation

Rolling Stone said that its three-month investigation of Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon Music “turned up a surprising number of purveyors of so-called hate music,” including National Socialist black metal, “fashwave” (fascist electronic music), Nazi hardcore punk, and vintage Nazi music from the 1930s and ’40s.

The most-played song on Spotify by fashwave musician IronMensch is titled “Aryan Fury”; his second most-popular track is “Reich Machine.” Rolling Stone said these songs and others like it remain available on Spotify even though an Anti-Defamation League investigation called them out last September, and that while Apple Music removed some of the music after being asked about it, it’s still available on Tidal and Amazon Music.

The ADL’s Calum Farley wondered how purveyors of hate music become “verified artists” on Spotify. “Why isn’t there some screening process beforehand so they don’t get on the platform in the first place?” he asked.

Connection to violence

Aaron Flanagan, deputy director of prevention and partnerships at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has also looked into hate music on streaming services, told Rolling Stone that “innumerable acts of bias-motivated violence — from hate crimes to terror campaigns — have been committed and orchestrated in connection with the hate-music scene across dozens of countries,” especially where “hate music intersects the racist skinhead scene.” The music also provides revenue for the global white-supremacist movement and related movements, he said.

Spotify, which is based in Sweden, has previously come under fire for promoting a podcast by a far-right comedian and donor to neo-Nazi causes. Spotify has also faced criticism for paying a reported $200 million to be the exclusive home for the popular podcast hosted by Joe Rogan, who has invoked antisemitic tropes, made racist remarks, and peddled COVID-19 misinformation on his show. The New York Times has described Rogan’s audience as being in the tens of millions.

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