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iTunes pulls hate music following SPLC report, Amazon and Spotify slow to act

On the heels of an SPLC investigation that found songs by dozens of white power rock bands being sold on iTunes, Apple has begun removing hate music from its service, though other sites offering hate music, such as Amazon, have been slow to act.

On the heels of an SPLC investigation that found songs by dozens of white power rock bands being sold on iTunes, Apple has begun removing hate music from its service, though other sites offering hate music, such as Amazon, have been slow to act. 

“Apple is doing the right thing by preventing iTunes from being used as a recruitment tool for white supremacists,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “Amazon and other online retailers that continue to sell this music need to realize that they are providing a powerful platform for extremists to reach young people with messages that advocate hate and violence against African Americans, Jews and others.”

The SPLC investigation, published in the latest Intelligence Report, found that at least 54 white power bands had listings with iTunes, the world’s largest online music retailer, in spite of violating Apple’s terms of use. As of today, Apple had removed 30 bands.

The primary concern about the online proliferation of hate music, especially through large distributors such as Apple, Amazon and Spotify, is outreach rather than money. Artists on Spotify, which also offers hate music, receive just over half a cent each time a song is played. The exposure itself is far more important to the radical right, because music is one of its most effective recruitment tools. 

Retail giant Amazon continues to offer hate music from bands such as Skrewdriver, Max Resist and Brutal Attack, whose album “White Pride White Passion” is available for download. Skrewdriver’s “White Rider,” which features a mounted Klansman in full regalia on its cover, is also available. In the comment section, white nationalists enthusiastically praise the album and the fact that it is available on Amazon.

The online retail giant’s policies provide a justification for Amazon to remove hate music. “Listings for items that Amazon deems offensive are prohibited on Amazon.com,” reads the retailer’s offensive products disclaimer, which, in addition to its participation agreement, governs the Amazon marketplace. “Examples of Prohibited Listings: Products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such view.”

Spotify has said it uses a list produced by Germany’s Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons to identify artists and music that should be removed. Content can also be flagged by users or others for Spotify to review. But as of today, Spotify has not removed any songs from a list of hate music provided by the SPLC.