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Spotify Has a Porn Problem—Here’s What You Need To Know

Spotify, one of the most popular music streaming apps today, features a vast selection of pornographic content—but they're not the only ones.

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How can a music app like Spotify contain porn?

It’s a great question—one that many parents are asking, while many remain unaware of the growing issue of pornography on music streaming services.

Our friends at Bark, one of the industry’s top internet monitoring tools for parents, recently shared some insights that every consumer of these apps should know.

Related: Parents: This is How Teens Find Porn Through Social Media

How are kids finding porn on Spotify?

So how does harmful content like pornography appear on music platforms, and how can kids find it?

“Audio porn” is an ever-prevalent issue that can surface in various ways. Some of the most common ways are through album cover art with explicit imagery and podcasts featuring erotic narratives, explicit discussions of sex, and sex noises and sounds.

Spotify, one of the most popular music streaming apps today, features a vast selection of pornographic content. But it’s also important to note that Spotify isn’t the only one. In fact, you can find this stuff on just about every music platform out there—like YouTube Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, Apple Music, TIDAL, iHeartRadio, Freegal Music, and others.

So if parents assume their kids are safe on audio-only platforms, think again. It’s alarmingly easy for kids to get exposed to pornographic content on every music streaming app—even if they don’t go searching for it.

Recent investigations even found instances where pornographic content appeared on Spotify just by searching for a single period or comma.

Can porn be blocked on music streaming platforms?

So what can be done to block this content on music streaming apps? The simple answer is there’s no perfect solution.

All popular music streaming apps have explicit content filters, but it’s important to understand what these safeguards do and don’t do.

Related: Bark: This Is a Better Way to Monitor Your Family’s Internet While Building Trust

While parents can block their children from playing specific tracks, there’s no way to block what appears in search results. So, for example, all pornographic content is available to see in search results regardless if the explicit filter is on. And while kids might not be able to play anything when they tap on the track, they’re still able to see snippets of the content, as well as potentially pornographic album covers, as well.

Predators on music apps

Another major loophole platforms like Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Unlimited, and iHeartRadio have is the lack of required passcode to keep explicit filters locked. So what’s preventing kids from toggling off the filters once they’re on the app? Nothing.

Podcast

Some apps like Apple Music, Pandora, and TIDAL do have a passcode option. However, parents can’t trust filters alone to block all harmful content effectively. For example, in their investigation, Bark found several sexual and inappropriate podcast episodes and songs that weren’t labeled “E” for explicit and therefore weren’t blocked by any filter.

While Spotify’s porn problem is enough to raise serious concern, parents must also be aware that there’s more than just porn on these platforms—there are also predators. Many use various playlist features to communicate with and groom children.

Related: Parents, This Is How You Can Spot and Protect Your Child From Online Predators

Reports from the UK describe predators grooming an 11-year-old girl into posting sexually explicit photos of herself exclusively through the interactive features on Spotify Playlists.

They asked her to upload a sexually explicit photo of herself as the custom photo of a playlist and to send her email address so they could continue soliciting her for inappropriate images.

Bark

What can parents do to protect their kids?

It can be discouraging and overwhelming to consider the prevalence of harmful content on literally every online platform. While filtering, blocking, or avoiding these apps altogether might be the gut reaction for many individuals and parents, that still doesn’t mean your children won’t be exposed.

Related: Parents: What’s Better than Internet Filters? Direct Conversations About Porn

There are many things parents can do—and it all starts with early and ongoing conversations. Parents actively involved in their children’s online lives are more likely to recognize these dangerous situations and step in. And if/when kids are exposed to porn in various forms, an established relationship of openness and trust can make a significant difference.

As always, Bark is available to help by offering monitoring tools for concerning content in texts, emails, and 30+ apps—sending parents alerts for potentially harmful content. It also blocks harmful apps, helps manage screen time, and even monitors the lyrics of songs kids stream on apps like Spotify.

You can start protecting your children online today by clicking here, and signing up for a free 30-day trial.

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