Etsy Blocks Sale of Most Sex Toys, Adult Content

LOS ANGELES—Etsy, the popular e-commerce app and seller marketplace, announced that it will restrict the sale of most adult novelties and explicit content. 

The new policy is set to enter force on July 29, 2024.

“At Etsy, we are committed to enabling creative expression while also ensuring content is appropriate for a wide audience,” reads the new policy. The move drastically changes the platform’s existing policies on products and content meant for adults over 18 years old. All adult toys, including dildos, strokers, and plugs are banned.

Pornography has always been banned, but the new policy adds further definitions to include photos of sexual activity that are otherwise not permitted for sale. “Etsy does not allow photographs or photo-realistic depictions of sex acts, genitalia, or anuses, even if they are obscured in listing images. We do allow photos and photo-realistic depictions of buttocks and nipples, so long as these body parts are obscured in the first listing image,” reads the policy, alluding to an additional measure that now requires proper labeling of “mature” content

Under the new policy, “non-realistic content” is permitted. Etsy defines this category of content as “paintings, illustrations, sculptures, and line drawings.” As long as the non-realistic material is properly labeled on Etsy, it can feature characteristics including uncensored buttocks, nipples, and breasts. Non-realistic content depicting sexual acts is also prohibited. 

"Selling or advertising sexual services, such as fetishised 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”)," reads the policy.

Etsy adds that they reserve the right to remove and ban users who violate the policies or the "spirit" of the new policy.

Content alluding to "familial" relationships is also prohibited.

Etsy defines the policy to cover terminology like step-siblings, step-mom/step-dad, and the use of phrases such as “daddy’s slut” or “choke me Mommy.”

"We carefully crafted this policy with the goal of continuing to enable creative expression and the spirit of our marketplace while taking into account evolving industry standards and best practices so that we can continue to keep our users safe," writes Alice Wu Paulus, Etsy's vice president for trust and safety, on the platform's support forum.

Paulus adds, "These updates build upon our continued efforts to keep Etsy and our community safe, and we appreciate your understanding and support as we work to identify and remove prohibited content from our marketplace."