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Etsy Updates Policy to Ban Sale of Most Adult Pleasure Products, Content

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Etsy will ban sales of most pleasure products and content that depicts sex acts and genitalia starting July 29.

Etsy’s revised Adult Nudity and Sexual Content policy was published last week.

As of the end of July, Etsy will prohibit the sale of adult toys that are “inserted into the body; applied to the genitalia; or designed for genitals to be inserted into them.”

The company specified that the new policy applies to adult toys such as dildos, vibrators, anal plugs, sex dolls and Fleshlights.

Etsy will continue to allow the sale of “non-insertable and non-penetrable adult toys and sexual accessories, as long as they meet our requirements for sale on Etsy. This includes items such as restraints, handcuffs, nipple clamps, body harnesses, sex furniture, and BDSM accessories.”

Those permitted adult toys and sexual accessories “may not be shown in use or worn by human models in listing or review photos.” Etsy urges sellers to “consider using a mannequin or flat lay photography instead.”

The pleasure product ban also extends to products of promotional copy using what the company calls “sexual language referencing familial relationships,” which it as “references to sex acts, sexual bodily fluids, fetish acts (including BDSM acts such as spanking), genitalia, sexual arousal, and sexualized terminology such as ‘slut’ or ‘whore’” in combination with “terms that refer to parents, step-parents, children, step-children, siblings, step-siblings, grandparents, aunts or uncles and nieces or nephews.”

“This includes slogans such as ‘Daddy’s slut’ or ‘Choke me Mommy,’” the company specifies.

The policy also bans the sale of “pornographic content” on Etsy, which the company defines as “printed or visual materials that explicitly describe or display sex acts, sex organs, or other erotic behavior for the purpose of sexual arousal or stimulation; materials produced by pornographic publishers (e.g. Playboy, Brazzers), including vintage adult magazines and films; materials marketed and/or described as pornographic in listing titles, descriptions, or tags, regardless of whether there is any nudity or sexual content within the listing images themselves; items modeled by a human in listing or review photos when a human model is featured in a listing or review photo for an item, genitalia, anuses, gluteal clefts, and female nipples/areolas may not be visible.”

The ban also includes all photography and photo-realistic content depicting “sex acts, genitalia or anuses, even if they are obscured in listing images,” but it exempts “photos and photo-realistic depictions of buttocks and nipples, so long as these body parts are obscured in the first listing image” as described in its Listing Mature Content Correctly” policy. 

For content that is neither photographic nor photorealistic — such as paintings, illustrations, sculptures, and line drawings — Etsy will allow some kinds of adult nudity, including “visible breasts and buttocks; genitalia or anuses without any additional sexual context (such as sex acts, visible arousal, sexual stimulation, sexual body fluids, or sexually suggestive posing); and sex acts without visible genitalia or anuses.” All other depictions of sex acts, genitalia or anuses will be banned.

Another explicit ban is the sale of “fetishized items (e.g. items that have been intimately used by a specific individual, such as worn underwear), and custom photographs and videos depicting nudity or sexual content, or content that sexualizes a specific body part (e.g. ‘foot pics’).”

Etsy VP of Trust and Safety Alice Wu Paulus issued a statement explaining that the rationale for the expansion of sex censorship was “to keep Etsy and its community safe.”

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