How eBay, Amazon, and Etsy Handle Russia-Putin Merch

Tue Mar 08 2022 21:13:19

By: Ina Steiner

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Search eBay, Etsy and Amazon for the Russian president’s name, and you’ll find row after row of lists of T-shirts wishing him ill in layman’s language. ‘F*** Putin’ clothes and masks sit next to ‘Stand with Ukraine’ stickers on the shelves of the virtual market as vendors seek to satisfy consumers’ desire for goods that express outrage at the war raging in Europe.

At the time of this writing, we found no updates or notices to sellers regarding the banning of Putin-related items. However, sellers on Amazon have started reporting that some of their Putin or Russia-related items are triggering rule violations as early as Saturday, March 5, when sellers couldn’t seem to get an answer on what was allowed and what was suddenly banned.
Etsy felt compelled to remind people to avoid discussing political events and to “refrain from making unwelcoming, degrading or hostile comments to members of our international community.” When a seller from Russia posted today About some people calling on Etsy to close all Russian stores in support of Ukraine and to refrain from buying anything from Russian sellers, an Etsy moderator thanked users who responded with ” supportive and kind comments” and closed the thread as it “starts to drift off-topic.”

eBay and Etsy searches for “Putin” were straightforward (even eBay Motors featured decals with similar themes). But Amazon featured books on the first page of results to help people who might be looking for information about the Russian leader. We don’t know if this was designed by Amazon in reaction to current events. But when we tweaked the search by putting the F-word in front of her name, we found the same type of merchandise featured on eBay and Etsy.

In addition to blasphemous clothes on sale in the main markets, there are lists of rolls of toilet paper with the image of the Russian leader and a sculpture “Putin Dicktator” – if you study the title, you can probably understand why this is NSFW (not safe for work).

While it’s clear that anti-Putin merchandise is available for sale, we don’t know if it’s selling — and we don’t know what policies marketplaces may enforce — with or without notice to sellers.

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