Etsy struggling to regulate the sale of illicit goods

Etsy’s marketplace is currently littered with goods it claims to ban, according to an investigation by Business Insider.

Items ranging from pornography, elephant ivory, dangerous weaponry, poisonous plants and animal remains are still being seen on the ecommerce platform better known for selling handcrafted gifts.

Despite it depicting itself as a handcrafted gift site, the platform sells a large amount of mass produced goods such as charging cables and air fryers too.

Handcrafted sculptures such as Netsukes (small figures depicting animals and humans) made out of elephant ivory, which has been subjected to international bans due to the trade pushing the species to the brink of extinction, are being seen available to purchase on the marketplace.

While the site claims to prohibit “items that are presented as weapons or to be used to inflict violence,” dangerous weaponry such as clubs engrained with spikes and nails, commonly used to bludgeon opposing forces to death during the First World War were found listed on the site.

Etsy says it allows exceptions for “tools” or “an unusable decorative item,” as well as “foam, rubber, or plastic reproduction weapons for training or roleplay.”

The company also states it does not allow “items made from cat and dog parts or pelts,” however listing involving mummified remains of puppies as well as preserved kitten foetuses were also spotted.

READ MORE: Amazon accused of “hypocrisy” as it faces continued outrage on social media over racist listings

The investigation by Insider found that around 800 listings on the platform involve the sale of banned products including t-shirts bearing the Confederate flag and “miracle cures”.

It comes amid increasing scrutiny on Etsy and other online marketplaces like Ebay and Amazon to do more to moderate their platforms and remove dangerous, fake or fraudulent items.

Amazon recently came under scrutiny recently after a 19 month-old child was found to have serious burns after ingesting a lithium battery from a product sold on its platform which failed to meet safety standards.

Amazon told the court that it was simply acted as a middleman, and that it was “not realistic” to expect it to check the millions of products on its platform met industry standards.

The defence used by Amazon was ruled insufficient in court.

The ecommerce giant has also come under fire for allowing the sale of racist literature on its platform

Platforms Ebay, Etsy, Poshmark, OfferUp and Mercari have recently all joined forces to fight a new bill which would require them to post information about third-party sellers on their platforms.

“We are committed to working with policymakers to find creative solutions that protect both consumers and small businesses, but a one-size-fits-all approach to combating counterfeit or stolen goods threatens the makers and curators of unique and vintage goods that rely on marketplaces to build their businesses,’ Etsy’s head of US government relations Jeffery Zubricki said.

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