EBay says stopping all Confederate flag auctions will take time

A day after changing its policy on the Confederate battle flag, EBay has begun targeting and removing such items from the online auction site. Company officials cautioned Wednesday that total removal will not happen overnight.

A number of auctions have already been halted by the company, but there are a lot more listings to sift through, said EBay spokeswoman Johnna Hoff.

“As you can imagine, with thousands of items impacted by the new policy, it will take some time before all are removed,” Hoff said in an email.

EBay on Tuesday added the Confederate battle flag and items bearing its image to the site’s offensive materials policy, describing it as “a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism.”


The change occurred almost a week after a gunman killed nine people studying the Bible at a historic African American church in Charleston, S.C. The man arrested in connection with the attack had posed for photographs holding the Confederate battle flag. He also had Confederate flags on his license plate holder.

In the aftermath of the shooting, a number of retailers, including Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sears Holding Corp., have stopped sales of Confederate flags.

EBay’s move is more complicated than the shift by retailers who can remove the product from their inventory. If an auction was already underway, EBay is sending messages informing the seller that item is no longer permitted, Hoff said.

If someone tries to post a new flag or paraphernalia, EBay said their system of filters and review should block the sale.

The EBay offensive policy prohibits items “that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance, or promote organizations with such views,” according to the site.

Here are some examples of items listed under the offensive materials policy:

Items related to felons, including letters or artwork created by serial killers or violent felons; novelty items related to or glorifying violent felons; and items from notorious crime scenes.

Nazi related items, including uniforms and personal belongings of concentration camp prisoners; uniforms, uniform components, weapons, or other items that bear Nazi symbols, whether visible or covered; and 1936 Olympic medals.

Disaster and human tragedy items pertaining to “listings that graphically portray, glorify, or attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering, or that are insensitive to victims of such events.”

Racially or ethnically offensive items, including those promoting or marketing intolerance toward religion, sexual orientation, race, or ethnic background; slavery items, including reproductions, such as tags, shackles, documents, bills of sale; and the newly added Confederate battle flag.

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