Redbubble in Hot Water for Offensive Content

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 08 May 2019

Australian user-generated marketplace has generated backlash for Holocaust-related apparel that slipped past their community guidelines.

Redbubble has come under fire for approving a series of clothing depicting Auschwitz. The user-generated marketplace is known for print-on-demand products by artists and creators.

The content in question included images of the German concentration camp on a mini skirt entitled ‘Chimney’, which users could purchase for EUR€35, as well as throw pillow featuring the train tracks to Auschwitz.

The content was noticed by Auschwitz Memorial Museum and was shared on their Twitter account, labelling the action as ‘disrespectful’ – “@redbubble Do you really think that selling such products as pillows, mini skirts or tote bags with the images of Auschwitz – a place of enormous human tragedy where over 1,1 million people were murdered – is acceptable? This is rather disturbing and disrespectful.” the tweet read. It has since amassed over 4,500 likes.

Following the tweet, other Twitter users noted their disapproval of the content, and some opted to boycott the retailer altogether. “Deplorable! I won’t use this website Redbubble again,” one user tweeted. The Australian marketplace took action, removing the content from the website, also noting that the ‘nature of content [was] not acceptable or in line with [its] community guidelines’.

The tweet has amassed over 2,000 retweets.

The Melbourne-founded company must approve all content before displaying them on its site but failed to disapprove the WWII content. Some users have found that art they produce of celebrities and other famous figures are removed almost immediately if they fail to meet certain community guidelines or copyright claims, but in this case, the Holocaust-themed photography slipped through.

In a series of tweets, Redbubble said they are “the host of an online marketplace where independent users take responsibility for the images they upload. We have onsite reporting functions in place and are grateful to be made aware of these concerns.”

This raises the question of responsibility for published content on similar marketplaces. According to the Redbubble Guidelines, ‘independent users take responsibility for the images they upload.’ According to LeaglVision, the publisher of offensive or defamatory content is held immediately liable for user-generated content posted online, unless stated in T&Cs.

Redbubble said it has “onsite reporting functions in place should community members discover works that breach these guidelines that have not yet been removed by our team.”

For all user-generated marketplaces, there are some key tasks users should complete before submitting work, which includes:

  • Distance yourself from liability where possible, in T&Cs or Community Guidelines
  • Clarify what content users can and cannot post, based on the written guidelines
  • Reserve the right to remove any and all content as required

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