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In depth: Google Podcasts blocking some podcasts

Podnews has discovered that Google Podcasts is restricting podcast content, marking some shows as “Content not available”, with a note that the company has “restricted some content for people who aren’t over 18”. Shows may be restricted even if they are not marked as 'explicit’, or have any obvious reason to be blocked; and publishers have no visibility as to whether their shows have been flagged in this way.

We were contacted by an affected sports and fitness podcast publisher, with episodes including interviews with a women’s football manager, a TV sports commentator, and a rugby coach. Their client was concerned that their content had been apparently flagged as unsuitable for kids. Having reviewed the content, we can’t see any reason why it should be restricted.

A Google Podcasts spokesperson tells us:

"We work hard to offer a safe and reliable platform to our creators, which means we take seriously our obligations to comply with applicable regulations and legal requirements around the world.

"As part of our efforts to comply with new children’s privacy regulations in the United Kingdom and other regions, certain content may now be restricted for users who our systems indicate may be under the age of 18 or who are not signed into their Google Account and are in a region impacted by the aforementioned compliance measures.

“To determine what content is age-appropriate for these younger users, we rely on information from multiple sources, including publisher tags, our own internal reviews, and other signals. We are working to improve our signals so that we can safely expand the corpus of podcasts that can be accessed by younger and/or signed-out users in the relevant regions, and plan to roll out additional updates soon.”

We’re unaware of any other podcast app that takes decisions to hide entire shows like this, seemingly at random. It’s particularly disappointing that publishers are unaware that their show (and reputation) is being erroneously highlighted in this way. Google can, and should, do better.

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Spotify: Discover This
We’re told that the other, Spotify: Discover This, is brand new and launches tomorrow, though you’ll spot 11 episodes have been published in the past year. It promises fresh insights on music, podcasting, cultural moments, and trends.
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Radiotopia has launched S***hole Country, describes as an audio memoir about achieving the Ghanaian-American Dream. It’s produced by an anonymous producer using the name Afia Kaakyire.

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