Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed June 24 2015 09:28:00

eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

By: Ina Steiner

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Many online sellers have heard by now that eBay, Amazon, and Etsy are now banning merchandise featuring images of the Confederate flag. But as we report in today's EcommerceBytes Newsflash, bans by marketplaces and retailers including Walmart are actually boosting sales of such items, at least in the short term.

"Anything with confederate in the title has flown out of my store," one eBay seller told EcommerceBytes yesterday evening.

In eBay's case, some would argue that unlike Walmart, it's a venue only - transactions are between buyers and sellers. Others would argue that having items show up in search results that are offensive and hateful to many customers is not good business.


Above: This watch for sale on Amazon yesterday features a Confederate flag design.

eBay is different from other retailers in that some items are collectibles rather than new merchandise. A look at its Offensive Material policy shows how delicate the issues are for eBay compared to Walmart or Sears.

For example, "Out of respect for the families and friends of victims, we don't allow listing items closely associated with violent felons within the past 100 years," the policy states, but it does allow "violent felon items more than 100 years old, such as items related to Jack the Ripper."

We dug into the archives and found an article from 2004 when eBay modified the policy to prohibit sellers from listing racially or ethnically offensive items on the site. eBay allows historic collectibles like Black Americana to be listed, but not reproductions of those items.

In addition, sellers were prohibited from using insensitive language to describe the items. eBay explained at the time, "For example, sellers may not use offensive words and phrases such as "Jap" or "Nigger" in the title or description of their listing, even if that word is part of the proper name or trademark of the item. Sellers may, however, display an image of such historical items within their listing even if the offensive word is plainly visible within the historical item."

What had one seller most upset about this week's change in policy was the lack of information from eBay, Amazon and other marketplaces about what exactly was being banned when it comes to Confederate flag merchandise. (See today's story for examples.)

Etsy was the only one of the three marketplaces that addressed our question about this. "It's hard to respond to hypotheticals or examples without seeing them, but anyone can contact integrity@etsy.com with their questions and we'll be sure to respond," a spokesperson said, and provided a link to Etsy's policy on Hate Items. Last year, eBay did answer our questions about terrorist-related items in this Newsflash story.

Are you impacted by this week's policy changes, and what do you think of such bans?




Comments (48) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise   eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Wed Jun 24 10:08:16 2015

It appears that Google "shopping" has also banned listings of the flag.

I don't own one but that's my own choice.  

Perminate Link for eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise   eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Jun 24 10:22:55 2015

Not affected. Never have listed or owned anything like that.


What I think of the ban is: Bans should make people THINK.


Disclosure:  Before this week, if I were given a ''free association'' test and a confederate flag photo was presented, my answer would have been ''Dukes of Hazard''  Telling signs of a child who grew up in the television age.  

Hmm...

Will eBay's ban cover ''Them Dukes''?  I notice there are still several listings with Dukes and General Lee stuff.  

Ban General Lee Lunchboxes but maybe limit listings to those rear-view shots of Daisy?  Still NOT offensive to portray women as an object - for now.


Slippery Slope, it is.

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by: rhawk This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 24 10:58:05 2015


We have a president and several politicians now telling America what is and is not offensive.

Corporations are following suit.

Welcome to Marxism.

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by: Orwellwasright This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 24 11:05:05 2015


Absolutely disgusting

The Book burners , and those who would eviscerate our history have won again

This is a disgrace. And its avalanching out of control, for those of you who are unaware this has been a MAJOR dream of the neofascists for decades. There have been numerous lawsuits and campaigns to remove the confederate flags from public venues for years

Now they have succeeded (as though carefully planned) beyond their wildest dreams

Not only will these flags be taken down from public venues, but now the image itself is being scrubbed from all areas of our culture (hello orwell)

Aside from removing all merchandise from seemingly all venues everywhere, and entertainment companies removing licensing from such shows as Dukes of Hazard, now the next phase is coming to bear

There is talk of tearing down all statutes and memorials to confederate generals, and renaming street and governmental properties
such as airports, named after anyone affiliated with the confederacy

This is truly sickening, to see how fast and well organized this campaign has gotten out of control

History will be wiped clean....

How about collectibles affiliated with confederacy/ Medals ? Uniforms ? paper Money?

If southerners are the new Nazis its only logical

What next?
How about banning all Magazines, and movies where women are exploited? (already in force in some euro nations)

How about banning all Magazines, and movies deemed rascist?

if you think that's impossible, you're mistaken. The precedent has been set, Wait for the next wave

Shame on Both ebay and Amazon for their disgusting cowardice and Hypocrisy

How many Millions of items referring to Manson or Hitler or Stalin are currently on ebay /

Those disappear next?

Ebay and amazon have steered onto a Dangerous road.


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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Jun 24 11:12:21 2015

Warner Bros. just announced they are pulling their licenses for General Lee die cast and models. I wonder what all my old Dukes memorabilia is worth now.

Perminate Link for eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise   eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Jun 24 11:46:57 2015

Well, the newly listed General Lees are considerably higher than the ones that were there when I looked earlier. Still a few lower cost BINs.  Interesting to look at the ''Solds''.  

May be interesting to sit back and observe.

Perminate Link for eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise   eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 24 12:02:08 2015

So I guess my question is.....If the idiot who did the shooting in the church was posing with a confederate flag, if he had been posing with an american flag would that be banned also.

Seems like knee jerk reaction again.  Just like Obama and his gun control. The only time you really hear anything is when someone shoots someone.

Just have to believe that there is a whole lot more problems than some flag flying.

Perminate Link for eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise   eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Jun 24 12:51:22 2015

Orwell & sasikat,  Slippery Slope - as slippery as  Clark Griswald sledding on that specially treated saucer clipping everything in its path and then some.


Not to be outdone while media discuss these events,  the somewhat un-censored ''they who shall not be named''  in foreign lands are finding new ways to use a Go-Pro.

Any of the flags THEY favor on eBay, amazon, google?


Ooohhh... it IS working - I'm afraid to do a search for THOSE flags in case I get myself flagged by the ''ministry of truth''- nsafbihomelandsecuritybig brother.



Well, the cheaper BIN General Lees are flying off the virtual shelves.  Maybe safe to talk about THAT.

Perminate Link for eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise   eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 24 13:22:10 2015

Just more micro managing of our lives. I don't condone , nor approve of this flag.

All the taxes imposed are offensive to me , should we ban our government?.
One bad apple is let to spoil the whole bunch.

This is ignorance on any level. Its part of the USA history. Many parts of our history are offensive , we have not banned our own history. Wake up America , & grow up. I think some people never made it out of Jr. high mentally.

 

Perminate Link for eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise   eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

by: CypressC This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 24 13:29:41 2015

Amazon removed our listing of the Mississippi Flag!!! I know the Mississippi Flag contains a portion of the Confederate flag --- but is the flag of the state of Mississippi now a symbol that glorifies racial hatred?! nd as expected -- my Mississippi flag has been removed, but dozens others remain. Why am I being singled out? I have little faith that the marketplaces will be able to enforce this once people start listing the flags as "Dixie Flags" or "Southern Flags". As it is, you can report Nazi listings on eBay and they will not take them down even after they are reported. Will it be the same here when people find keyword work arounds?

The worst part of it is that tomorrow the Supreme Court will announce its decisions on Obamacare and Gay Marriage... and once those decisions come out, no matter how they rule, the country will forget about Confederate flags but we will still be left damaged as sellers!

Perminate Link for eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise   eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Jun 24 15:59:14 2015

Agree with Orwellisright and sasikat9.

Humans are a violent species, and history isn't always pretty. But that doesn't mean a significant event can be obliterated in case someone might be offended. I guess next up we'll be like Montag in Fahrenheit 451, reading Gone With the Wind in secret.

Perminate Link for eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise   eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

by: Santini This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 24 17:11:37 2015

I says we ban COTTON next, that universal fiber of hate & oppression. And all its derivative products!

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by: brokentoys19 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 24 17:56:49 2015

Good thing it's just the typical, dubiously timed, monkey-see monkey-do kneejerk, politically correct lip service.

Otherwise they would have quite a task on their hands- with all the Hitler, Nazi, Dukes of Hazzard, Johnny Rebel items, not to mention al-queada fundraising items and Pierre's buddies from the Ukranian Right Sector and Svoboda party all hawking wares.

yeah sleazebay, the world is upping their standardss, so up yours.

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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 24 19:13:02 2015

@ Brokentoys19

Ebay has no standards to up. They reside at the lower level of whale crap at the bottom of the sea.

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by: nsc This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Jun 24 21:03:06 2015

This is how the PC Outrage machine works -- take a moment of popular outrage (for once they didn't have to invent a racist attack, this time there was a real one), and immediately use it for political advantage. To the Left, everything is political. Everything.

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by: Katie This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Jun 25 00:27:56 2015

I wish we could ban stupidity.
This historical flag did not kill anyone.

Perminate Link for eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise   eBay Ban Boosts Sales of Confederate Flag Merchandise

by: TIDSdp This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 25 00:35:05 2015

Amazon seller blogs all over.... This was our input:

Posts: 46
Registered: 17 Apr, 12 6:13 AM
Posted on: 24 Jun, 2015 6:59 PM   in response to: callie little in response to: callie little  
Click to edit this message... Edit Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
We do have a ''dog in the fight'' because we sell costumes.

We heard this on National News yesterday, so attempted to remove the ''flag'' from the hats of the ''confederate soldier costumes''.

One, we were successful at, the other we are not the ''contributing'' detail merchant and as such, it was removed today (of course, we have some at FBA and, of course, we'll get to pay the return shipping as well as the original shipping), but what's disturbing is that these were removed WITHOUT any notification or concession to us, the seller.

This was not a restricted product then, nor is it now.

Let me ask you this: If we wipe out our history...... Then since ''those who don't know their history are condemned to repeat it''........ what will our future be?

I am sorry some find it offensive, others believe it was about states rights. The ''evil'' people have made it a bad symbol. But, come on ... on a legitimate ''civil war confederate costume'' (not a ''something to hang on your car or bumper''), is ridiculous. After all, we still teach about the civil war in the US Class rooms. Will we be redoing all of the history books too?

Just wondering - We, small business, should not bear the cost of a political decision.

Amazon is free to make it, but we shouldn't bear the cost of the shipping, (both ways), storage, and now we have inventory that was purchased based upon projections from Amazon sales........

Just not sitting right.....

Thanks for listening.

As for personally, I agree it belongs in the museum as it is ''history''. So why would a costume denoting the era, not be ''approved'' to sell?  

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by: toyspast This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 25 00:47:15 2015

Well, I'm glad my Dukes of Hazzard General Lee car sold before they took it down! This is ridiculous. This flag is seen differently by different people. Excuse the phrase, but its not black or white. If everyone saw the flag as something that signifies racism, then there might be a point to this, but to some people, it means someone in their family may have fought and died for that flag. It also can mean they loved ''Dukes of Hazzard''. Since its an issue with tons of shades of gray, then leave it be.

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by: Mimi This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 25 01:21:47 2015

I guess I'm the lone voice of reason here. Or maybe the only one with a biracial grandson. I'm glad they're taking this crap off the shelves, so to speak. It is a symbol of hate, it is offensive. Period. Guess no black people read ecommercebytes.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Thu Jun 25 02:33:29 2015

Anything can become offensive or made into a racial issue. Everyone's perception and opinion is different. Maybe small planes should be banned because of 9/11, maybe white sheets should be banned as well etc etc. None of us were alive when the Civil War happened but we cannot erase history. Yes, it was absolutely horrible what he did but to allow a deranged psychopath to influence the nation to this extent just opens the door for more psychos to want to create their mark in history. By sensationalizing and placing focus on the misuse of a flag from a major American war in history makes everything worse.

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