Etsy in the firing line over sick humour greetings cards

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Etsy made the national press for all the wrong reasons over distasteful Mothering Sunday and Birthday cards this week. There is undoubtedly a market for sick humour greetings cards, but should it be on marketplaces?

The cards spotted on Etsy mocked kidnapped schoolgirl Shannon Matthews and birthday cards poked fun at Katie Price’s disabled son. Others on the site joked about Jimmy Saville and Josef Fritzl.

As is always the case, it’s not Etsy themselves who have listed the cards but in this case an Etsy seller. Over the years we’ve seen hundreds of similar cases covering everything from reselling charity products to Golliwogs to the banning of Confederate flags following US mass shootings. In none of these cases was it actually the marketplace who sold them and in many instances the marketplace banned them.

The seller of the sick humour cards told The Sun OnlineI choose to express myself through comedy and art. That resonates with some people but will offend others. I obviously do not condone any acts of child abuse whatsoever. It’s better to find humour in despicable acts and remember what happened rather than stick your head in the sand and forget about it.”

Whilst some might find it hard to understand the mentality of an ‘artist’ who would create such products, others would find it even harder to understand why anyone would buy them.

Etsy, as is common with all marketplaces, have policies covering offensive items, but equally do allow the sale of ‘mature content’ (sic) products for their diverse range of customers. There does appear to be a market for such products – one recipient of the card mocking Shannon Matthews tweeted an image of it calling it ‘Amazing’ although the tweet appears to have been deleted.

If one was being generous one might take the view that the press are acting as guardians of the public in highlighting such cases, but one might equally take the view that they are in the business of selling papers and view these events as gold dust to fan the flames of public outrage which is exactly what their readers love to read.

It’s tough to screen every single product listed to determine it’s suitability and an almost impossible task until the reputational damage is done when highlighted by the media. Certainly marketplaces can take down products when they are reported leaving the big question which is what can marketplaces do to police listing of products which will upset a large proportion of their customer base?

2 Responses

  1. ” the big question which is what can marketplaces do to police listing of products which will upset a large proportion of their customer base? ”
    – have a clear and consistent policy regarding what you’re allowed to list, and what you are not. then stick to it.

    na, just censor everything, lets become a sharia state and all walk around under burqa’s lest we offend someone’s sensibilities. ban all media, it’s all sick.

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