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Joe Rogan responds to Spotify protest, COVID advisories; Potential scammers imitate free COVID test websites

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 1/31/2022 Globe staff
A COVID-19 vaccine themed kong teck, an offering to ancestors and spirits, was seen on sale in Chinatown on January 31, 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand. Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration officially cancelled all public celebrations during the Chinese Lunar New Year. However, Thai people continued to celebrate on in Bangkok's Chinatown at Chinese temples and Yaowarat Walking Street. © Lauren DeCicca A COVID-19 vaccine themed kong teck, an offering to ancestors and spirits, was seen on sale in Chinatown on January 31, 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand. Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration officially cancelled all public celebrations during the Chinese Lunar New Year. However, Thai people continued to celebrate on in Bangkok's Chinatown at Chinese temples and Yaowarat Walking Street.

COVID-19 cases have fallen in Massachusetts after a surge driven by the Omicron variant swept across the US and the world. The winter surge has prompted many experts and officials to reemphasize the importance of masking indoors and social distancing, in addition to getting vaccinated, including booster shots.

Below, we’re gathering all the latest news and updates on coronavirus in New England and beyond.

  Jan. 31, 2022  

Spotify shares advance after addressing controversy over Joe Rogan — 10:16 a.m.

By Bloomberg News

Spotify Technology climbed after the streaming service said it would would add a content advisory to podcasts that address COVID-19, seeking to quash an uproar over Joe Rogan’s program. Facing mounting pressure from users and musicians over the accuracy of virus information being spread by the platform’s most popular podcaster, Spotify published its existing rules governing content. Rogan, meanwhile, pledged that he would present more balanced, better-researched programming on the coronavirus.

The shares rose 5.8 percent at 9:41 a.m. Monday in New York. That chipped away at the 12 percent decline that Spotify registered last week, wiping out almost $4 billion from the company’s market value. Rock icon Neil Young had pulled his music from the service to protest Rogan, who has hosted several outspoken skeptics of COVID-19 vaccines. Joni Mitchell followed Young’s lead as did other musicians.

Spotify created rules governing acceptable content on its service years ago and built a hub with coronavirus information early in the pandemic, but hadn’t made them public until Sunday. Rogan thanked his listeners and Spotify and apologized for the controversy. “If I’ve p----ed you off, I’m sorry,” he said in an Instagram video over the weekend. He said he would “try harder to get people with differing opinions on right afterward” and “do my best to make sure I have researched these topics.”

Potential scammers imitate free COVID test websites — 10:09 a.m.

By Bloomberg News

As a new government website went live in January to offer free COVID-19 test kits, a rash of new domain names were registered. Some had remarkably similar URLs, or were nearly the same but slightly misspelled.


Video: U.S. COVID deaths rising but likely due to Delta, not Omicron, says CDC chief (Reuters)

Cybersecurity experts said the goal was likely the same for all of them: bogus domain names that can be used for phishing attacks and other scams.

Suspected fraudsters have registered more than 600 suspicious domain registrations since Jan. 15, around the time Biden administration announced details about a program in which the US Postal Service would deliver COVID-19 tests to Americans’ homes, email security firm Proofpoint Inc. told Bloomberg News. The look-alike URLs are often meant to trick COVID-weary Americans into thinking they are signing up for a free nasal swab, when in fact they might be handing personal data over to a cybercrime syndicate, cybersecurity experts said.

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UK ‘partygate’ report criticizes ‘failures of leadership’ — 9:54 a.m.

By Bloomberg News

A major report into allegations of rule-breaking gatherings in Downing Street has found “failures of leadership and judgment” at the top of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government.

“At least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time,” senior civil servant Sue Gray said in her long-awaited report, released on Monday. While a parallel police investigation means Gray was asked to exclude her conclusions on the most damaging allegations against Johnson and his team, the release of her report still represents a moment of political peril for the prime minister. He’s due to speak in the House of Commons later on Monday to address the findings and will later also talk to Tory MPs.

Johnson is trying to draw a line under the steady drip-drip of allegations, dubbed “Partygate” by the UK media. They’ve undermined his leadership in recent months, leading some lawmakers within his own ruling Conservatives to talk openly about toppling the prime minister and causing his party to plunge in the polls. Gray since December has been investigating reports of more than a dozen apparently rule-breaking events at Johnson’s office and in other government departments in 2020 and 2021, at a time when gatherings were banned as part of restrictions to tackle COVID-19. She was preparing to release her report last week before London’s Metropolitan Police said they were opening their own investigation into the most serious allegations. The police on Friday issued a statement saying they’d asked Gray to only make “minimal reference” to the events they’re investigating.

Joe Rogan responds to Spotify protest, COVID advisories — 9:13 a.m.

By The Associated Press

Following protests of Spotify kicked off by Neil Young over the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, the music streaming service said that it will add content advisories before podcasts discussing the virus.

In a post Sunday, Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek laid out more transparent platform rules given the backlash stirred by Young, who on Wednesday had his music removed from Spotify after the tech giant declined to get rid of episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which has been criticized for spreading virus misinformation.

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