Etsy Updates Mature Content Policy With New Limitations On Nudity, Adult Toys & Sexual Accessories

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


Etsy has updated their Adult Nudity, Sexual and Mature Content policies, cracking down on explicit content and items that have proliferated across the site causing brand damage as well as media and investor scrutiny.

Strengthening Our Approach to Mature Content on Etsy
Hi Everyone, Etsy is deeply committed to marketplace integrity, and keeping Etsy a safe and delightful place for users around the world. Our policies are designed to protect our global community, and maintain our position as the destination for truly special, creative goods. Etsy has long had polic…

Etsy is deeply committed to marketplace integrity, and keeping Etsy a safe and delightful place for users around the world. Our policies are designed to protect our global community, and maintain our position as the destination for truly special, creative goods.

Etsy has long had policies in place that prohibit certain mature content and provide guidance on how to appropriately list adult items. Today, we are building on this foundation, updating our standards, and introducing more rigorous guidelines.

These updates can be found in our Adult Nudity and Sexual Content policy, and will take effect on July 29, 2024. 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.

A few key changes to our policy include:

  • Significantly limiting the types of adult toys and sexual accessories that can be sold on Etsy: Some categories of adult toys and sexual accessories are prohibited, and it is now more clear which specific types of adult and sexual items are allowed if listed appropriately. You can see more detail about prohibited items here.
  • Prohibiting items that depict sex acts and genitalia: Photographs and photo-realistic depictions of sex acts and genitalia, even if they are obscured in listing images, are prohibited. Adult nudity is generally permitted if it is non-realistic, like paintings and sculptures, if listed appropriately. Pornography in any form is never allowed on Etsy.
  • Introducing stricter criteria for listing images that feature mature content: Mature content—including permitted nudity and permitted sexual content—may not appear in the public areas of your account, including but not limited to your shop home, username, or avatar. If your listing includes mature content, the first thumbnail image must be adequately obscured.

Please note that these policies apply to all listings on Etsy, including content produced using artificial intelligence. We encourage you to read through our new Adult Nudity and Sexual Content policy, as well as our updated guidance for Listing Mature Content Correctly.

We will begin enforcing these changes on July 29, and removing listings that are not compliant. In the coming weeks, we will also communicate directly with sellers who may need to update their listing images to be compliant with our new listing guidance for mature content.

Etsy has increasingly come under fire in the last year for allowing illegal, counterfeit or policy violating goods to flood the marketplace, leading to changes in the enforcement of Etsy's policies which legitimate sellers worry could harm their businesses if not implemented and executed well - which we saw when a technical glitch took down visibility of many best selling items in error during a "routine sweep" earlier this month.

Etsy Sellers Panic As Tech Glitch Takes Down Visibility Of Items In Error During “Routine Sweep”
Etsy sellers panicked when best selling items suddenly went missing from search due to “technical issue during a routine sweep.”

Unfortunately, the bot dragnet often gets it wrong, harming legitimate sellers while allowing bad actors to remain, as clearly indicated by troubling reports that AI-generated celebrity deep-fake porn was not just allowed for sale on the site, but actively promoted by the company's recommendation and related searches features.

Etsy has also recently updated their Prohibited Items policy with some very specific additions and removals aimed at political activism and giving the platform wider latitude to remove items that it deems violent, degrading, or hateful.

Etsy Prohibited Items Policy Update Targets Political Activism, Violence & Hate
Etsy updates Prohibited Items policy taking aim at political activism with wider latitude to remove items deemed violent, degrading, or hateful.

The timing of these changes is also very interesting. Just days before the update, Etsy was explicitly name-checked in Supreme Court arguments about content moderation laws passed in Florida and Texas in response to concerns that social media companies were censoring their users, particularly those with conservative viewpoints.

The laws contain provisions that limit decisions social media companies can make about how and which user-generated content is presented to the public, and others that require social media platforms to provide individualized explanations to users about their editorial choices - some of which could extend to online marketplaces as well as more traditional social media sites.

As debates heat up over the fate of Section 230 protections and online moderation liability, marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, Amazon will face greater political, legal and regulatory implications as they try to carefully balance brand reputation, user safety and security, and moderation concerns.

How will these changes to Etsy's Adult Nudity, Sexual and Mature Content policies impact your online business? Let us know in the comments below!

EtsySeller Updates

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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!

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