Merchandise featuring the neo-Nazi slogans “Camp Auschwitz” and “6mwe” have been found on the image-sharing social media platform, Pinterest.
Last week, an article from The Markup revealed that 64 ‘pins’ – images that can be uploaded and shared – featured merchandise containing the acronym “6mwe”, the neo-Nazi acronym for the phrase “6 million wasn’t enough”, which refers to Nazi Germany’s genocide of six million Jews in the Holocaust.
Nine pins were discovered that featured throw pillows, backpacks, travel mugs, and face masks with the phrase “Camp Auschwitz” over a skull and the phrase “Work brings freedom”, the slogan above the gates of Auschwitz, one of the most notorious concentration camps where over a million people were murdered.
These pins seemingly contravene several of Pinterest’s community guidelines, specifically the ones which prohibit content that features:
- Support for hate groups and people promoting hateful activities, prejudice and conspiracy theories
- Support for white supremacy, limiting women’s rights and other discriminatory ideas
- Hate-based conspiracy theories and misinformation, like Holocaust denial
In fact, when searching for the term “6mwe” through the Pinterest website, you are met with the message: “Pinterest isn’t a place for hateful images, content or activities. Find out more about our policies.”
The means of accessing these pins were not found through the search function on the Pinterest website, but through Google. Typing “6mwe hoodie” will not yield any results when entered on Pinterest itself, but when typed into Google, you are presented with a backdoor portal that can allow you to view the hateful content on Pinterest. This is because Pinterest’s strategy on targeting hateful content revolves around restricting access to it, rather than taking it down. This means that Pinterest may have a blind spot when it comes to considering how individuals may be able to access its content using other methods.
When presented with the findings, the pins were removed. Crystal Espinosa, a spokesperson for the website, said that “there’s no place for content like this on Pinterest.” She added: “When we identify or are made aware of content that violates our policies, we review and take action.”
When asked why the pins were accessible in the first place, Ms Espinosa said that moderation over the website could be improved, and that “given the volume and complexity of content, there is always more work to do, and we also recognise that we have more opportunities to improve.”
The “Camp Auschwitz” pins all lead to Redbubble, an online marketplace that allows users to upload their custom designs to a variety of products. Marissa Hermo, a spokesperson for Redbubble, said that these items were violations of its policy and were removed on the same day as they were uploaded. “We have a suspend-for-review mechanism in place for specific topics, so this content should not have been available for public view,” Ms Hermo said.
38 antisemitic pins reportedly lead to actual products hosted by various online sellers. Most of the products had been removed or had inactive links, but nearly one-third were still available to buy from vendors like donefashion.com, funnysayingtshirts.com, myclothzoo.com, teesbuys.com, teeshirtxyz.com, and teejabs.com. These websites were approached for comment but did not respond.
When approached for comment, it was pointed out by Google spokesperson Jane Park that content can be taken down from the search engine when a website removes said content from its own platform first, and then uses the “Outdated Content” tool. “Our results reflect information available on the open web, and sites can choose if they want to have their pages indexed by Google,” said Ms Park.
Presented with this information, Ms Espinosa said: “We have oversight of the content that appears on our platform and work with Google to expedite removal of links to content that has been removed from Pinterest. We’re always working to speed up this process so that policy-violating content is not persistent elsewhere.”
At the time of writing, Campaign Against Antisemitism found that 6mwe merchandise was still available on Pinterest with an active link leading to the product from an online vendor. In the comment section, a user wrote: “sorry if you don’t like it, but if you don’t order this shirts its doesnt’t matter or may be do you have any idea or suggestion the interesting shirts. thanks : )”
Campaign Against Antisemitism also discovered several accounts on Pinterest sharing images of Nazis with the numbers “1488” in their profile name (examples can be seen here and here). 1488 is often used as a coded reference to the neo-Nazi fourteen-word oath: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”, a slogan initially devised by David Lane, a member of the white supremacist terrorist group “The Order” which was responsible for the murder of Jewish radio host Alan Berg. The number 88 refers to the eighth letter of the alphabet, H, and is intended as a code for “Heil Hitler.”
This is not the first instance of neo-Nazi items being advertised through large, online websites.
Last year, Amazon removed t-shirts, hoodies and cups, emblazoned with “6mwe”. The neo-Nazi items were allegedly also available for a short time at American online site Teespring, but the apparel site reportedly said that the neo-Nazi attire had been removed and the seller “permanently banned”, with a spokesperson noting that the site “categorically” did not “allow or condone” harmful content that may lead to “harassment or violence” or “threats to the health and safety of the public.”
Earlier this year, the online marketplace Etsy apologised for selling a t-shirt with the phrase “Camp Auschwitz” and reported that it had immediately banned the seller after being made aware of the item. The item, which came to prominence after photographs emerged of a protestor at the attack on Capitol Hill wearing similar apparel, was described on the website as “everything you’ve dreamed of and more” and “flattering for both men and women”.
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