Amazon has pulled several children’s clothing that display a sexually explicit message from its e-commerce site, following a CBC News investigation.
The items, sold by third-party sellers, included a dress, shirt, summer hat and hoodies that boldly displayed the message “I love c-k” with a heart-shaped emoji. Sometimes the rooster emoji has replaced “c – k”, which is another word for rooster and slang for penis.
Product ads showed children designing clothes.
“This is disgusting,” said Carolina Zykova of Chilliwack, British Columbia, who alerted Amazon, CBC News and the Canadian Child Protection Center last week after discovering an item when shopping on Amazon.ca.
“It could be linked to pedophilia,” she said.
Following a CBC investigation, the Seattle-based e-commerce company removed the items.
“The bigger question is how does this type of material affect their services?” said Signy Arnason, associate executive director of the Canadian Child Protection Center, who reported the problem to Amazon.
“It’s a normalization of child sexual commodification,” Arnason said.
Who buys these things?
Zykova first discovered the items when searching Amazon for a bathing suit for her eight-year-old niece. That’s when I came across an ad for Girls’ Sports Swimwear, which featured a little girl in a white bathing suit with the message “I love C-K” repeatedly displayed.
“I was absolutely shocked because she’s probably a seven or eight-year-old girl in the picture,” she said. “How could someone be selling these and who would buy these things?”
Zykova complained to Amazon, which removed the bathing suit from the site.
Concerned that Amazon was still selling similar merchandise, Zykova researched the site further. This time, I was dismayed to find an advertisement for a children’s headdress that displayed the same explicit message, similar to a little boy.
Zicova contacted Amazon using the online chat option, but this time it was unsuccessful to remove the item.
According to the transcript of the online chat, it appears that the employee I spoke with did not understand the scope of Zykova’s complaint. After Zykova’s protest, the employee said that someone from a different department would call her.
She said she didn’t hear back from Amazon the next day, so she called CBC News.
“I was hoping that… it would be brought to the public, so they are going to have to do something about it.”
Meanwhile, Zykova has unveiled several other baby items bearing the same “I love C-K” message. It featured a “girls’ Christmas dress” modeled on a little girl and was marketed as “funny”.
“How is that funny?” She said.
Amazon told CBC News in an email on Sunday that Items violate the company’s offensive product policywhich bans children’s items with adult content, including sexual references.
“All sellers must follow our selling guidelines, and those who don’t will be subject to action, including possible removal of their account,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Amazon said that the second employee Zykova spoke to should have followed the appropriate procedure to resolve the complaint and that the company is providing additional training for customer service employees as a result of what happened.
The company also stated that it conducted an investigation to ensure that no similar products remained on its site.
However, the next day, the Canadian Child Protection Center told CBC News that a similar item was still available on Canada’s Amazon: a T-shirt for both adults and children indicating a sexual act that included “father” and “j-k.”
The organization said it notified Amazon about the shirt Monday morning.
CBC News contacted the outside seller, Khang C, who removed the shirt late Monday night.
“It’s our fault when choosing a product,” a company representative wrote in an online message. “Thank you for letting me know.”
Amazon said Tuesday that it is now reviewing its product catalog for any that it may have previously missed.
Zikova and Arnason, of the Child Protection Center, said they want Amazon to adopt stricter controls to prevent similar items from appearing on its site.
You won’t find a retailer that can offer it [these items] They will be closed, and the police will be involved,” Arnason said at their window.
Amazon said that its technology, as well as its dedicated staff, constantly scan all products listed for sale to search and promptly remove products that violate its policies.
But CBC News covered several cases where Amazon removed inappropriate items sold by third-party sellers, Including Nazi toolsOnly after the items raised complaints.
Last year, the online retailer Delete the N-word from the product description A black action figure admitted to CBC that its safeguards failed to obscure the racist term.
Given the size of Amazon’s market, it will be difficult for the company to screen each product individually, according to retail analyst Alex Arifuzzaman.
The company offers hundreds of millions of items, many third-party sellers.
It will never be perfect,” said Arifuzzaman, with Toronto-based InterStratics Consultants. “There will always be, sort of, things seeping through the edges in there.”
However, he said Amazon needs to find ways to improve the screening process.
“There has to be some sort of innovative solution,” said Arif Al-Zaman, such as getting outside sellers to sign an agreement that ensures the products they sell are not offensive.
“If that’s the case, there is some kind of punishment,” he said.