Outcry from sellers over Etsy Sex Toy Ban

Category: Etsy News
Outcry from sellers over Etsy Sex Toy Ban

If you’ve been surreptitiously shopping on Etsy to spice up your sex life, it’s all going to end when an Etsy sex toy ban comes into effect on the 29th of July this year.

Etsy are banning everything vaguely porn related, from printed mags to anything that’s designed to be inserted, applied to genitalia or designed for genitalia to be inserted into.

We are building on this foundation, updating our standards, and introducing more rigorous guidelines. These updates can be found in our Adult Nudity and Sexual Content policy, and will take effect on July 29, 2024. We carefully crafted this policy with the goal of continuing to enable creative expression and the spirit of our marketplace, while taking into account evolving industry standards and best practices so that we can continue to keep our users safe.

– Alice Wu Paulus, VP of trust and safety, Etsy

Etsy Sex Toy Ban Key Changes

There are three key changes you need to be aware of if you trade in these categories:

1) Significantly limiting the types of adult toys and sexual accessories that can be sold on Etsy

Some categories of adult toys and sexual accessories are prohibited, and it is now more clear which specific types of adult and sexual items are allowed if listed appropriately. You can see more detail about prohibited items here.

2) Prohibiting items that depict sex acts and genitalia

Photographs and photo-realistic depictions of sex acts and genitalia, even if they are obscured in listing images, are prohibited. Adult nudity is generally permitted if it is non-realistic, like paintings and sculptures, if listed appropriately. Pornography in any form is never allowed on Etsy. 

3) Introducing stricter criteria for listing images that feature mature content

Mature content—including permitted nudity and permitted sexual content—may not appear in the public areas of your account, including but not limited to your shop home, username, or avatar. If your listing includes mature content, the first thumbnail image must be adequately obscured. 

Impact on Sellers

Sellers who have built up their Etsy sex toy businesses are naturally furious. Not only are there limited other platforms that they will be able to sell their wares on, but for most it will mean launching their own online shop and it’s going to be incredibly expensive to attract enough traffic to keep their businesses viable. Either way, selling on other sites or concentrating on your own website is likely to result in a significant drop in income for many sellers.

The Etsy sex toy ban isn’t particularly unusual, for many years eBay UK had a similar ban in place until they eventually relented in March 2016 when they launched a Sexual Wellness category, which hit the marketplace with a set of whitelisted retailers. However eBay’s rational wasn’t to launch a sex toy category, it was merely to clean up the site and get products listed in the wrong categories gathered together in one place (eBay.com had long had an adult category for over 18s).

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