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Amazon’s print-on-demand clothing platform, Merch By Amazon, is tightening their policies regarding apparel designs that “promote violence.” This should come as no surprise considering current events like the recent Parkland Shooting, which left 17 people dead and re-sparked a fierce gun control debate in the U.S. The new guideline states:

2.6 Promotion Of Violence: Designs that promote violence, glorify violence, or attempt to incite violence through cruelty, death, or torture against an individual or a group of individuals. Content depicting or encouraging mass murder and suicide are not acceptable. See also Human Tragedy policy.

Merch By Amazon, compared to other major print-on-demand apparel platforms such as Redbubble, is still young, so the program’s Content Policy guidelines are still relatively brief. But newer guidelines are added pretty consistently in order to protect Amazon against legal trouble and bad press related to support of controversial subject matter.

Such was the case last December when Walmart was criticized for selling a t-shirt that promoted the lynching of journalists. The shirt was offered through Walmart’s third-party seller marketplace, which allows integration from print-on-demand sites like Teespring. Teespring has a reputation for having notably more lenient standards for the content they’ll allow on their platform. For example, this Bill Cosby rape shirt is still available on the platform at the time of writing.

Walmart was criticized for selling a t-shirt that promoted the lynching of journalists // Image courtesy of Walmart.com

Although Walmart quickly removed the listing after a complaint was filed by the journalist advocacy group Radio Television Digital News Association, the multinational retail corporation suffered from the poor press. Walmart promised to do a better job of reviewing third-party products and undoubtedly removed many more items of clothing from their marketplace in the weeding process.

This new guideline was not the first addition to their content guidelines related to questionable subject matter. In October 2017, Amazon updated their guidelines regarding “human tragedy.” This further specified the prohibition of designs that “depict a human tragedy, are directly connected with a tragedy, or treat human life satirically.”

This was likely due, in part, to a rise in content creators who were uploading t-shirt designs following the death of celebrities as well as shirts related to major tragedies such as the “Vegas Strong” t-shirts that followed the Vegas Shooting, which took place the same month Amazon updated their guidelines on human tragedy.

Users on Merch by Amazon would be wise to review Amazon’s content policies carefully and to remove any designs that may be violation of these policies– or risk having their accounts permanently banned.

Barry Falls Jr
Barry is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he studied sociology, journalism, and business entrepreneurship. He has over five years of experience working with small web-based startups to assist them with growing their engagement and creating online communities around their brand. He's the editor of Frontier Desk.

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