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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2458 - January 17, 2011 - ISSN 1539-5065    4 of 5

Etsy Revises Policy after CNN Coverage of Rape Card Listings

By Ina Steiner
January 17, 2011

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Etsy revised its prohibited items policy in the wake of mounting criticism and national media attention about offensive listings on the site. A seller going by the name of YouStupidBitch opened a shop on Etsy in October and began selling greeting cards with offensive and misogynist themes. The seller's shop is still online; the cards that made jokes about rape, AIDS, and children with Down's Syndrome appear to have been removed.

When users first complained about the listings on its discussion boards over 3 weeks ago, Etsy closed the threads and allowed the listings to remain. An Etsy engineer left positive feedback for "YouStupidBitch" in the midst of the controversy. According to one thread, Etsy responded to complaints about the seller's so called "rape card" with the following statement:

"It is important to us that we allow members of the community to express their own sensibilities, and to develop their shop identity to suit themselves and their market. What is offensive to some may be intended as a statement about culture by an artist."

Various bloggers picked up the story, and the television network CNN featured the controversial listings in this report. A website called WomensRights.Change.org began a petition asking for Etsy to remove the listings, which received over 16,000 online "signatures."

On Friday, Etsy announced it was revising its policy because of the "intense debate about what kinds of items should and shouldn't be allowed on Etsy." In the announcement, Etsy wrote that its policies prohibited disparaging or promoting hate against people based on race or religion, but had not covered gender, people with disabilities, or sexual orientation.

The policy has been revised to state that Etsy will no longer allow items or listings that promote, support or glorify hatred toward or otherwise demean people based upon race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation, including items or content that promote organizations with such views.

Etsy also revised its policies around violence and illegal activity and now prohibits items or listings that promote or support illegal activity or instruct others to engage in illegal activity and items or listings that promote, support or glorify acts of violence or harm towards self or others.

Adam Freed, Etsy's COO, wrote the announcement, saying, "We have always supported a broad range of perspectives at Etsy, even if we don't always personally agree with the messages of our individual members. We will continue to do so. But we also want to recognize that tolerance and respect have to be part of the norms of our community. We feel that the kinds of items we are now prohibiting violated that spirit."

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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