On the May 14 edition of his Spotify podcast, Joe Rogan falsely claimed that far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was right “about actual microchips being injected into your arm to see if you have COVID-19.” Rogan repeatedly praised Jones, asserting that he is “right 80% of the time.”
Jones has spread the baseless conspiracy theory that COVID-19 vaccines funded by philanthropist Bill Gates contain trackable microchips. Versions of this conspiracy theory are widespread and are “pushed by individuals and groups whose amplification of falsehoods are adding to vaccine hesitancy.”
Rogan’s recent comments about microchips are similar to a misleading narrative that made the rounds last month when an April Facebook post and article from the Kremlin-backed propaganda outlet RT claimed that Pentagon scientists have “unveiled a microchip implant” which can detect viruses like Covid-19.
USA Today rated this claim as “partly false,” stating:
The claim that a sensor developed by Pentagon scientists is a microchip with an antenna that can detect COVID-19 is PARTLY FALSE, based on our research. The sensor is not a microchip, as it's inert and doesn't have any metal that could relay personal information to other devices. And it was developed by a private company, though using federal funding. The chip also doesn't directly detect COVID-19, but it can relay information about changes in molecules that could indicate the presence of COVID-19 or other diseases.
Snopes also posted a fact check of the claim, writing, “The technology is not a microchip, nor was it developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, nor can it pinpoint what virus or bacteria has infected the body." RT’s Facebook post and article have since been updated to note that the technology is “a sensor and not a microchip.”
Rogan is one of the most influential podcast hosts in the world. His show is broadcast exclusively on Spotify and is the most popular podcast on the platform. As the Washington Post has noted, “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, Rogan reaches nearly four times as many people as prime-time cable hosts such as Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.”
He has frequently used his podcast to spread conspiracy theories, espouse COVID-19 misinformation, and attack trans people. On April 23, Rogan encouraged “healthy" young people not to get a COVID-19 vaccine, saying, “If you're like 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I'll go no.” Notably, Spotify did not hold Rogan accountable for his dangerous rhetoric.