Etsy AI Misidentifying Everyday Items As Drug Paraphernalia

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


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The Etsy community is once again being flooded with complaints about AI bot takedowns run amok - this time innocent words such as "clip" are being flagged as drug paraphernalia causing legitimate sellers' listings to be removed while plenty of real violations are allowed to remain.

Drug Paraphernalia Takedowns VS. Actual Drug Paraphernalia on Etsy
So Etsy has added new words to the “Super Secret List of Words What Can Get Listings Automatically Yanked”, SSLWWCGLY for short. So many innocent sellers are getting caught up in these takedowns, but let’s see what remains. Let’s search “DAB RIG” - actual drug paraphernalia. 1,777 results including…

So Etsy has added new words to the "Super Secret List of Words What Can Get Listings Automatically Yanked", SSLWWCGLY for short.

So many innocent sellers are getting caught up in these takedowns, but let's see what remains.

Let's search "DAB RIG" - actual drug paraphernalia. 1,777 results including some from a seller with the word CANNABIS in the shop name.

"BLUNT" - 14,586 results, including an illegal weapon (a balisong) and a heck of a lot of rolling papers with marijuana leaves, AND pre-rolled illegal hallucinogenic drugs that cause a high.

"JOINT" - 82,297 results including smokeable drugs with hoards of medical claims.

"EDIBLES" - 11,999 results, including actual cannabis edibles and banned CBD products.

So, Etsy, why exactly aren't you banning THOSE WORDS instead of innocent words like "clip"????

Target the DRUG DEALERS, not innocent sellers just trying to make a living, please.

Wow, this looks like Etsy is a veritable haven for drugdealers.

And we were worried about resellers...

Etsy needs to hire a human to screen for drug paraphernalia, since it's so easy to find on the site through simple searches. The bots have been miserable failures and it could be the next thing Etsy gets in legal trouble for. This seems just a little more serious than banning amber beads.

Etsy of course does not provide a list or any clues as to which keywords may be causing the take downs but sellers suspect clip, spoon, nail and other common words could be on "the list".

I've had a set of silver plated teaspoons deactivated for this!! I am so pissed. I've already renewed the listing several times with no issue, how are teaspoons considered drug paraphernalia?

ive had 5 of my listings deactivated all i can see would be the word Nails, what is the relevance to this and we end up loosing 10 days possibly more before someone sorts it out i am so sick of it all what with the reserves as well there taking the piss

Etsy have removed a card of vintage hair clips! (Ive listed them elsewhere), also the flower name poppy is banned, I have a utensil jar adorned with lovely red poppies, i will have to list that item somewhere else too.

So I cannot sell spoons, slides clips or use the word poppy or spray, where does it end and of course you are threatened with banishment even if you dont know about drug stuff!!! Etsy have also removed a vintage embroidery transfer because i described it as a flower spray! I think im going to have to pull a lot of my listings.

These reports come as other sellers have recently faced AI takedowns falsely claiming their items are not handmade and other automated mass removals.

Etsy Takes Down Legitimate Handmade Items In Automated Bot Dragnet
Etsy sellers report increase in legitimate handmade items being deactivated, caught in automated bot dragnet.

The brand damage being done by Etsy's continued failure to take action against truly policy violating listings while protecting legitimate sellers is incalculable.

CEO Josh Silverman recently told Fast Company’s Impact Council that "corporate do-gooderism" has driven success for the company - perhaps it's time to turn that drive to do good into tangible action to improve the policy enforcement process on the platform.

Etsy CEO Josh Silverman: ESG “Do-Gooderism” Drives Success
CEO says Etsy is genuinely different than mass retailers, site still flooded with counterfeits & dropshippers.

Have you had an Etsy listing wrongly removed for violating the drug paraphernalia policy? Let us know in the comments below!

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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of online marketplace sales experience, providing commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify & more at Value Added Resource!