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Spotify is banning political ads—but there’s a catch

The world’s biggest music streamer is taking a stand against fake news, but the decision is limited to Spotify’s original podcasts and ad-supported tier.

Spotify is banning political ads—but there’s a catch
[Photo: Daniel Fontenele/Unsplash]

You can still stream “Ice, Ice Baby” and “Sussuidio” on Spotify. But you’ll no longer have to endure the aural agony of political ads. The music streaming service confirmed to AdAge that, beginning in early 2020, it will no longer run political commercials—from candidates, elected and appointed officials, Super PACs, nonprofits, and political parties—on its ad-supported service or in exclusive podcasts such as “Amy Schumer Presents.” (Past ad customers include Bernie Sanders and the Republican National Committee.)

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The decision doesn’t affect advertisements that are embedded in third party podcasts, so you could still encounter ads for Bernie on “Pod Save America,” for instance, or Tulsi Gabbard on “The Ben Shapiro Show.” But for the 141 million subscribers to Spotify’s ad-supported tier, the disappearance of political ads is notable—even if they never accounted for more than a negligible portion of Spotify’s revenue.

The debate over political advertising on tech platforms has been a major controversy in recent months, with Facebook refusing to fact-check or remove any political advertising, and Twitter taking a vociferous stand against the practice. On October 30, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey rocked the social media world when he announced an end to sales of political ads, highlighting his difference of opinion with Mark Zuckerberg. Google, meanwhile, has taken a compromise approach, still accepting political ads in search results and on YouTube, but turning off the ability to micro-target by political affiliation.

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About the author

Sean Captain is a Bay Area technology, science, and policy journalist. Follow him on Twitter @seancaptain.

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