An international Jewish organization called out several popular online retail outlets Wednesday for failing to enforce policies against users selling “hateful paraphernalia.” As of Thursday, one company had issued an apology.
B’nai B’rith International singled out web retailer Etsy for going “on the record to ban some offensive items,” citing its policy against it, but failing to enforce the policy consistently.
B’nai B’rith said that a search of the site in recent days revealed that “456 swastika-themed items were available for sale, as were 479 Hitler-themed items, 13 Ku Klux Klan-themed items, and one racist, Jewish caricature candlestick listed specifically under the topic ‘anti-Semitic.’”
On Saturday Etsy said it had reached out to B’nai B’rith and was conducting “constructive dialogue” on the issue, though it did not say it would remove the items in question.
“We very much appreciate B’nai B’rith being on the front lines of erasing hate,” an Etsy spokesperson told The Times of Israel. “We are constantly reviewing our policies to ensure they are in line with our values, and will continue to evolve them accordingly. We’re looking forward to continuing this dialogue with B’nai B’rith as we work through these issues together.”
She stressed that while Etsy sellers were bound to site guidelines and terms, “it is important to understand that Etsy is not a curated or juried marketplace.”
She added that Etsy removes thousands of items monthly for various policy violations that it either detects or members report, but that the system it is not foolproof.
While B’nai B’rith focused on Etsy, it also noted that numerous other retailers, including Ebay, Amazon, Sears Marketplace and Yahoo!, were also guilty of allowing users to sell offensive items on their sites.
For its part, Sears issued apologized in a statement and on Twitter.
“Like many who have connected with our company, we are outraged that more than one of our independent third-party sellers posted offensive items on Sears Marketplace,” the company said in a statement. “We sincerely apologize that these items were posted to our site and want you to know that the ring was not posted by Sears, but by independent third-party vendors.”
— Sears (@Sears) October 15, 2014
The Anti-Defamation League praised Sears and Amazon for removing Swastika rings being sold by a third-party from their sites.
— ADL News (@ADL_News) October 14, 2014