Auschwitz Memorial blasts print-on-demand service for selling death-camp-themed skirts, pillows
Calling the screen-printed clothing and accessories "disturbing and disrespectful," the Auschwitz Twitter account posted several images of products offered on Redbubble's site, including a skirt depicting one of the camp's crematoria, a pillow printed with the train tracks leading to the camp, and a tote bag featuring a "danger high voltage" sign, demanding to know whether these were "acceptable."
.@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. pic.twitter.com/cdPvZGMXC6— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) May 7, 2019
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The nature of this content is not acceptable and is not in line with our Community Guidelines (https://t.co/i9QomriweX). We are taking immediate action to remove these and similar works available on these product types. (1/2)— Redbubble Help (@RedbubbleHelp) May 7, 2019
Redbubble replied almost immediately, agreeing that the items were neither "acceptable" nor in keeping with its community guidelines, and removed them – but not before facing a torrent of outrage.
I’ve seem many awful and tasteless things, but this really seems barbaric— Rachel McGovern (@rmcg2799) May 7, 2019
Well I’ve never heard of this company and I hope they sink into oblivion, profiting from tragedy is abhorrent— Maddy Boulton (@MaddyABoulton) May 7, 2019
The ultimate insult and an amazing lack of sensibility and empathy. This is true of @redbubble and anyone who purchases these products. Disgusting actually.— Patricia Serpa (@RepPatSerpa) May 8, 2019
Trying to be heard above the critics, Redbubble explained that as a third-party marketplace connecting a huge number of buyers and sellers, who upload their own images and choose what products it is sold on, the site couldn't police every design, and that users were responsible for reporting offensive material.
Redbubble is 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. (2/2)— Redbubble Help (@RedbubbleHelp) May 7, 2019
The explanation of the print-on-demand model appeared lost on a lot of people, however, with many apparently assuming Redbubble had either designed the products itself or made the decision to print the images on clothing.
Might be an idea for @redbubble to actually visit Auschwitz instead of seeing it as dollars 💵— Steve Poole (@Spooleypoole) May 7, 2019
This is obscene. @redbubble someone needs their moral compass adjusting.— Lefty Lambchop #JC4PM (@CurlyClareToo) May 7, 2019
@redbubble ... somebody in your management & legal did not think this one properly through. Time for a recall on this very thoughtless product line.— Mountain Sam 🗻 (@FreeInMountains) May 7, 2019
It's unclear whether the products actually violate any established Redbubble policies, or why other products featuring Auschwitz images – including postcards and prints – are permitted. The policy includes one line about "works dealing with catastrophic events such as genocides or holocausts," merely mandating that they be "sensitively handled." In those same community guidelines, Redbubble actually asks that users "do not seek or engage with content you don't agree with (no need for troublemaking)," but it was probably wise not to point that out to the Auschwitz Memorial.
A few lonely voices pointed out that Redbubble couldn't be blamed for what people uploaded to its site.
Really it’s not entirely @redbubble fault, they are just a platform for others to sell their ‘art’, so it’s the person/people who thought these would be a good idea that should be also named and shamed here. Their name & link will be listed at the bottom of each ‘design’s’ page.— Aughra Ptolemy (@Human47118627) May 8, 2019
I agree it's incredibly tasteless but Redbubble did not upload these products. People create their own accounts and post their own products, just like posting a video to YouTube. Report the products in question on their pages and they'll get taken down— Lare (@Noah_x3) May 7, 2019
Actually, Redbubble is not responsible for this, because each seller creates an individual store and uploads whatever they want to sell on products. But Redbubble will have to do something and block this person/account.— Marina Amaral (@marinamaral2) May 7, 2019
And a clever few found the real villain of the piece.
Capitalism epitomised.— Jacqueline - The day Diane put the Mojo in Mojito (@ylem42) May 7, 2019
Private enterprise!— Iron Felix (@IronFelix17) May 8, 2019
That's capitalism.— 🇵🇸X Graham Bobbin XJC4PM.🇵🇸 (@GBobbin) May 8, 2019
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