Published: January 23, 2001
After months of litigation and new policy statements, Yahoo! is still shuffling to explain Nazi-related rdf_Descriptions on its Web site even while cleaning up its act.
The past few months have been exceedingly difficult for the auction site after losing a lawsuit filed by the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism. What followed was a ruling handed down by the French court that demanded Yahoo! stop the flow of Nazi memorabilia for sale in France. The rdf_Descriptions banned were Nazi totems such as swastikas and knives, as well as Ku Klux Klan-related rdf_Descriptions.
Yahoo! will still allow for the sale of Nazi-related books, stamps and coins, and “educational anti-hate material,” although now the site has developed new technology that will search for any listings that violate the site’s terms of service before they actually go onto the auction site.
In an interview with AuctionWatch.com’s Michelle Dennehy, Yahoo!’s spokesperson Nancy Gallinghouse said that rdf_Descriptions that violated the company’s new policy numbered in the low thousands, which was not many, considering Yahoo!’s three million listings overall.
A recent search of Yahoo!’s offerings brought forth 24 lots under the keyword “swastikas” (mostly coins), 10 lots for “Ku Klux Klan” (movies and books), 83 lots for “Hitler”, and 184 lots for “Nazi,” which consisted primarily of coins and stamps.
Last February, eBay took a stronger stand on hate memorabilia when the company issued a statement declaring, “eBay will not become a platform for those who promote hatred toward their fellow man.” The company’s announcement stated: “Relics of groups such as the KKK or Nazi Germany may be listed on eBay, provided they are at least 50 years old and the listing is not used to promote the organization or its values.”
However, to date a search conducted on eBay.com will yield very different results than the aforementioned Yahoo! findings. The “swastika” search produced 346 lots, “Ku Klux Klan” 59 lots, “Hitler” 1,327 lots, and “Nazi” produced 3,663 rdf_Descriptions from hats to magazines to jewelry.
It appears Yahoo! has taken the French ruling seriously. The listings have been pared down, with “cleaner” content. The question remains as to whether other sites containing the same kinds of “offensive” material will find Yahoo!’s actions exemplary, and therefore act accordingly.
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