The Berlin-based streaming platform HÖR has issued a statement in response to online criticism and calls for boycotts, after it allegedly halted two performances last weekend due to artists' pro-Palestine clothing.
In a statement sent out to DJs who have performed on its platform, HÖR sought to clarify its position on the issue — after it had been accused of "censoring" the artists due to their clothing.
The accusations surfaced after two DJs' sets on November 3 were pulled, in what HÖR say, was due to their clothing that "could be perceived as offensive and calling for the eradication of Israel."
Following the news of the set cancellations, DJs such as Bored Lord, DJ Voices, EQUISS, I. JORDAN and umru have asked for previous performances to be removed from the channel while artists such as Allecto and MJK have cancelled sets that were due to air on the Berlin station.
Since then, the internet radio station has asserted that it "wholeheartedly support[s] the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and freedom", but its content team had recognised symbols that were "controversial" for some audiences that it "could not allow."
HÖR cite that it has platformed many artists that "show their solidarity with the Palestinian people by wearing shirts, scarves and flags", including the Mala Junta streams on October 27 where both DJ TOOL and Mohajer both wore clothing expressing support for the Palestinian cause.
In response to HÖR's statement, Sam Clarke took to Instagram to question whether the Berlin radio station would've acted the same if he had worn an Israeli flag which superimposed itself over Palestine, describing the decision to halt his set as based in personal ideology that "affirms the continuation of settler-colonial apartheid."
The statement also addressed other criticisms HÖR has received, including an apology from its founders who shared private Instagram stories in response to the Supernova trance music festival attack on October 7 that they "deeply regret", admitting that the posts were "not appropriately fact-checked[ed]".
Read the full statement from HÖR below.
Due to recent events at our studio and posts on social media, we wanted to reach out to you directly to clarify our position.
We have been appalled by the events that have taken place in Palestine and Israel. Our hearts have been broken for all the innocent victims. We hope for an immediate end to the violence and relief for the Palestinian people from this humanitarian crisis, as well as for the safe return of all the Israeli hostages. We wholeheartedly support the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and freedom.
We take our responsibility to create a safe space where artists can share their responses to the devastating events seriously. We have seen many artists using our platform to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people by wearing shirts, scarves and flags. We believe in freedom of expression, and we have not, and will not, censor flags or peaceful slogans.
However, there are symbols that, for some audiences, are controversial, which we will not allow.
On Friday, we had the first two incidents where individuals wanted to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people, but our content moderation team felt that their items of clothing could be perceived as offensive and calling for the eradication of Israel. In one instance, an artist wore a scarf with the phrase "the land is ours" written in Arabic, while in another instance, another artist wore a shirt featuring the Palestinian flag superimposed over the map of Israel. It is never our intention to upset any of our artists, but keeping our platform as a respectful space is very important to us.
We also know there are stories circulating about our platform, which we want to directly address:
• There have been questions about some social media posts shared by us, the founders of HÖR, after October 7th. As many of you will know, we are originally from Israel. We and our families were shocked and saddened by the events on October 7th. We personally know people who have died or were kidnapped and are still missing. We deeply regret sharing posts that we did not appropriately fact-check after October 7th and we are sorry if we offended anyone. We in no way support the horror that has been inflicted on innocent Palestinians, and we have listened to those who have reached out to us in the weeks since, educated ourselves in new areas, and learned a lot.
• There was an isolated incident where an artist, who was showing his solidarity with the Palestinians, left the booth eight minutes before the set ended. This led our content moderation team to think there was an issue with the set, resulting in putting it in private just to check if there was a problem. When they realised there was nothing wrong, it was immediately put back online.
• We are aware of a former vendor who has listed his employment on LinkedIn as HÖR and has been sharing hateful posts. This individual supported us with our website in early 2022, and we only ever had two or three meetings with them. Unfortunately, we were not aware of his political opinions, and they do not represent our views and values.
Finally, we understand that some of you feel hurt by the delay in us setting out our position on this matter. As a platform, we have always tried to be open and transparent, and we will learn from this experience. We believe in the importance of freedom of expression, and we have taken on board the feedback shared with us. We are looking into training our content moderation team to ensure we have clear guidelines for our team and artists to follow.
We would like to thank the majority of our artists who have been really respectful and engaging in conversations with us over the recent weeks.
We will continue to listen and work hard to create an environment that is open and respectful. We would like to have an open dialogue with you, so please do reach out directly to us if you would like to share your thoughts and ideas on how we positively move forward.
Our hope is that our community comes together at this difficult time and finds comfort in the values that unite us as a creative collective. Our platform will remain open to anyone looking for an outlet to express themselves via music. Thank you."
Tibor Heskett is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter