Wish.com removes most Confederate merchandise, citing policy against hate, but it still sells items glorifying dictators

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The online retailer Wish.com formally prohibits the sale of "hate symbols," but many still slip through the cracks.
  • Before Christmas, visitors to the online retailer Wish.com could purchase a number of items celebrating the Confederacy, from flags to shirts to hats.
  • After Insider pointed out the items last week, the company removed most but not all related merchandise.
  • "Wish prohibits the listing of products that glorify or endorse hatred towards others," a company spokesperson said Monday.
  • But visitors can still purchase items that violate the company's policy, including merchandise glorifying dictators Bashar al-Assad and Saddam Hussein.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

This holiday season, visitors to Wish.com - the online retailer whose name is featured on jerseys worn by LeBron James and other members of the Los Angeles Lakers - were able to buy an item that is officially prohibited for promoting hate: the battle flag of the defeated Confederate States of America.

Paid ads on the site actually featured Mississippi's recently scrapped state banner, which included the Confederate flag in the top left corner. In the ad, the symbol of the Confederacy, and the lost cause of chattel slavery, is featured prominently; hundreds of people purchased these items, according to the site.

Following an inquiry from Insider, most but not all of that merchandise has now been purged.

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Confederate flags were available for purchase on Wish.com throughout the holiday season.

"Wish prohibits the listing of products that glorify or endorse hatred towards others," a company spokesperson said Monday, noting it "deploys a number of measures to prevent these types of listings and removes them if prevention was unsuccessful."

Led by billionaire and former Google engineer Peter Szulczewski, the e-commerce site, akin to eBay and Amazon, brought in just under $2 billion in revenue in 2019. It also raised $1.1 billion when it went public on the stock exchange in November 2020.

Like its competitors, Wish has an explicit policy on "hateful symbols": it does not allow them. Nazi memorabilia, the alt-right "Kekistan" flag, and "dictator glorification" are all expressly prohibited.

The company's policy threatens to impose a $10 fine on those who sell prohibited items. The company spokesperson did not immediately respond when asked if the penalty had been imposed on those who listed the Confederate merchandise.

Although Wish has a clear policy against symbols of hate, enforcement is uneven.

In 2019, for example, Wish and Amazon were both forced to apologize after The Auschwitz Museum revealed that the sites were selling Christmas tree ornaments with photos of the concentration camp, as Wired reported.

Confederate merchandise also remains just one quick search away, including a "Confederate States Cavalry" flag and matching baseball cap, despite the renewed effort to clean up the site.

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Items celebrating the Confederacy continue to be listed at Wish.com, despite a policy prohibiting their sale.

As of Monday night, visitors could also purchase t-shirts, hoodies, and face masks celebrating Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian strongman whom the US concluded used chemical weapons along with indiscriminate bombing campaigns that have killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions of other people to flee their homeland.

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Numerous items featuring Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad are available to purchase at Wish.com.

Users can also buy t-shirts and cell phone cases featuring Saddam Hussein, who over the summer of 2020 was featured in a seemingly algorithm-driven social media campaign from the company that highlighted a $20 framed photo of the deceased Iraqi dictator.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Lakers, which announced a corporate partnership with Wish in 2017, did not respond to emails requesting comment.

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