Online marketplace Etsy has removed all items that mention coronavirus or the disease it causes, COVID-19, from it site, Buzzfeed News first reported on Wednesday.
Etsy, which focuses primarily on homemade and vintage goods, said it had taken down thousands of items that made claims about protecting against coronavirus — as well as hundreds of items attempting to exploit the outbreak, according to Buzzfeed.
Some of the items included coronavirus-themed apparel and novelty items poking fun at the rapidly spreading epidemic as well as products making various medical claims, while others were meant to serve an educational purpose.
However, Etsy told Buzzfeed it decided to take down products making any reference at all to the outbreak, though it would be prioritizing those making medical claims.
Late Wednesday, an Etsy spokesperson emailed the following statement to Business Insider: “In order to keep our marketplace safe, our team is prioritizing taking down any listings that claim to protect against coronavirus. In the past few days alone, we have removed thousands of items that make such medical claims. We have also taken down hundreds of items that attempt to exploit the developing coronavirus situation. Our teams continue to automatically and manually review and remove items that violate our policies.”
Etsy is not the only e-commerce site that has been scrambling to deal with the wave of exploitative and misleading products as well as the spike in demand for legitimate products like face masks. Amazon has recently taken similar steps, removing more than one million listings that make false medical claims as well as cracking down on sellers who engage in price gouging.
The coronavirus has already killed more than 3,200 people, mostly in China, and infected more than 95,000 around the world. It has spread to every province and region in China as well as at least 80 other countries. The outbreak has already had a major impact on the stock market as companies’ global supply chains and operations face disruptions.