How Conspiracy Theories Took Over the World of Online Fashion
Online marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, and Zazzle have allowed hatred and misinformation to be marketed to the masses
The world of online fashion has been going through the same reckoning with white supremacist conspiracy theories as the rest of the internet. Platforms such as Etsy and CafePress were skewered shortly after the January 6 insurrection for hosting merchandise celebrating the event, which caused them to scramble to take some of the incendiary content down. If you type “QAnon” into sites such as Zazzle or Etsy, you will not get any hits, except for maybe a parody “QaNOPE” T-shirt.
This more aggressive posturing, however, has not rid these platforms of conspiracy theory merch. With minimal effort, you can still find everything from dog whistles to direct overtures. “The Letter Q, suitable for any occasions, birthdays, Christmas, QAnon…” reads the description for one Q sticker on the site Redbubble. “All legal votes matter,” reads a button sold on the marketplace Etsy, referring to the erroneous belief that widespread voter fraud occurred in the 2020 election. “Handed them out to patriots last week in D.C.,” explains the first comment underneath this product. The date posted is January 13; the implication is that they were present in D.C. when white supremacists stormed the U.S. Capitol.
These companies have remained indifferent to the rancor swirling about on their platforms, refusing greater regulation for an ad hoc system that removes their worst items while leaving everything else up for sale.
For decades, the online fashion industry’s lack of accountability has allowed hatred and misinformation to be sold at a discount. These companies have remained indifferent to the rancor swirling about on their platforms, refusing greater regulation for an ad hoc system that removes their worst items while leaving everything else up for sale.
When I talk about online fashion, I am referring to digital marketplaces for goods, where the seller uses the platform to hawk their wares. Sometimes these are…