eBay pulling listings for Dr. Seuss books now deemed problematic

eBay pulling listings for Dr. Seuss books now deemed problematic
AP Photo/Steven Senne
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eBay has suppressed, if not outright banned sales of “problematic” Dr. Seuss books, which were put out of publication by the organization controlling the Seuss estate, following concerns over racist caricatures. 

On Thursday, eBay sellers trying to make bank from selling the now unavailable books were greeted with system messages informing them that they were not allowed to sell the books which have since been deemed “racist” and “offensive.”

These books include And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street; If I Ran the Zoo; McElligot’s Pool; On Beyond Zebra!; Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer.

eBay sellers who had their listings removed shared screenshots on social media, which informed them that eBay had taken action against the Dr. Seuss auctions because they stand in violation of the platform’s “offensive materials” policy. 

The policy bans the sale of items that “promote or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination.” 

We had to remove your listing because it didn’t follow our Offensive material policy. Listings that promote or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination aren’t allowed.

What activity didn’t follow the policy[:]

Dr. Seuss Enterprises has stopped the publication of this book due to its negative portrayal of some ethnicities. As a courtesy, we have ended your item and refunded your selling fees, and as long as you do not relist the item, there will be no negative impact to your account. Please review our Offensive Materials Policy prohibits this item for more information.

What you need to do next.

You can’t relist items we’ve ended. Please ensure your current and future listings follow this policy.

The “offensive materials” policy states that:

“Listings that promote, perpetuate or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination, including on the grounds of race, ethnicity, color, religion, gender or sexual orientation, aren’t allowed.”

Other banned items include “[i]tems with racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise demeaning portrayals, for example through caricatures or other exaggerated features, including figurines, cartoons, housewares, historical advertisements, and golliwogs.” 

Despite the platform’s rule, numerous copies of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf are readily available for sale, including early prints from the 1930s. Copies of Siege by white supremacist James Mason are also available on eBay. 

eBay confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that it was actively removing the now verboten Dr. Seuss titles. 

“Online marketplace eBay Inc. said it is working to prevent the resale of six Dr. Seuss books that were pulled earlier this week by the company in charge of the late author’s works because they contain offensive imagery,” wrote the Journal

“eBay is currently sweeping our marketplace to remove these items,” a spokeswoman for the company reportedly told the outlet in an email.

“Hundreds of listings for the six books could be found on the platform as of Thursday morning, though the number appeared to be lower than it was on Wednesday evening,” the WSJ noted. “The eBay spokeswoman said it would take some time to review seller listings and that the company was monitoring newly published listings.”

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  • By Ezra Levant

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