Table of Contents
I am pissed and unsure how to deal with my concerns.
I have had an account with a website called Redbubble for several years now. It’s a print on demand platform, whereby you create original pieces of art, digital or otherwise, and upload them to the site. You then edit them on the site to fit a whole bunch of criteria, and anyone who likes the design can go ahead and order it in multiple ways, such as on a mug or a t-shirt. Redbubble makes a solid chunk of money off the deal, and the designer gets a small cut. Everyone’s a winner!
Since the beginning of this adventure, I have sold very few designs. It hasn’t bothered me in the slightest, because even though I’d love to make money off the endeavor, half the fun is learning a series of new skills, including design, marketing, and the intricacies of the print on demand business. The occasional few dollars is just a pleasant bonus.
But Redbubble recently deleted my account. Without explanation.
And I couldn’t be more furious.
My “Offensive” Designs
The background: Most of my items on the site up to this point are simple text-based designs. Whatever is on my mind when I sit down to create. But since the war began, I thought it would be in my best interest to make designs that are there to bolster Israel. To show my support. Nothing too complex. Things like this.
And whereas my message was clearly showing favoritism to one side of the debate, I kept things pretty mild. In my opinion. The core message was about victory.
A couple of designs were quickly flagged for review, but within a day or two were approved. Then I was informed that one design was removed, and when I checked, there were actually four missing! I was quite frustrated.
And then it happened. I received an email from Redbubble saying they’ve deleted my account for violations of their policies, with no explanation of what policy I violated or which design or designs they were upset about. I formally appealed the decision and was quickly told that the ruling remains and is permanent, still no explanation.
Redbubble’s Policies and Motivations
So, in preparation for this post, and for the sake of being extremely careful and thorough, I read through all their documentation to try and figure out if I had blatantly violated anything. I tried to be very liberal interpreting the words, to try and give at least a small amount of benefit of the doubt with their decision-making process.
My speculative conclusion: They’ve shown their hand. They’re too chicken to outright say they have an anti-Israel bias, or that they’re even blatantly antisemitic, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire. They took the first opportunity to censor a loyal participant in their program, for the worst possible reasons.
So I call upon you, loyal friends and onlookers. Here is one design they first removed and here is another. Here are all the designs I’ve made to date. Ironically, this one and this one were never removed. The pattern is very unclear.
Oh, and just for some more information, pro-Palestine designs like this and this exist on the platform. And that’s OK! I have not reported them, and I don’t plan to. I believe firmly in freedom of speech and freedom of artistic expression. Unless a design is filled with outright hatred and bigotry or explicit calls to violence, I don’t think they should ever be censored. Even if I strongly disagree with their message. That’s what freedom is! It’s freedom to disagree. It’s freedom to express complex thoughts, even if they might step on someone’s toes. That’s OK. Toes are meant to be stepped on!That's what freedom is! It's freedom to disagree. It's freedom to express complex thoughts, even if they might step on someone's toes. That's OK. Toes are meant to be stepped on! Click To Tweet
Now obviously I would love it if you’d purchase any of my designs… but you should be fully and completely aware that my designs I’ve linked here are being hosted on a different platform called TeePublic, which thankfully hasn’t removed anything of mine (yet?). However, please note that TeePublic is owned by Redbubble, so a) your money would still be going to support the organization that banned my reasonable and inoffensive designs, and b) my guess is my days are numbered on this platform as well. No, they haven’t given any indication that they’re unhappy. But it’s in the family. We’ll see what happens next.
So I call upon you, the reader. Here is some of their documentation, if you get a free minute. The main reasons for account suspension are fraud (I’m not fake), plagiarism (all my designs are original), harassment (I’ve never bothered anyone on the platform), or going against Redbubble’s many policies of what you cannot sell on their site.
I’ve gathered some quotes from the documentation that, if stretched, could possibly apply to my designs. For example:
A. “Your content does not contain material that defames or vilifies any person, people, races, religion or religious group and is not obscene, pornographic, indecent, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory or otherwise objectionable.”
B. “Reasons people might report a work: A reasonable person would find it offensive or consider it a personal attack.”
C. “Work that glorifies or trivializes violence or human suffering is not permitted… This includes the promotion of organizations, groups or people who have a history of violence and/or an agenda of hate.
Works that deal with catastrophic events such as genocides or holocausts or other atrocities need to be sensitively handled. Works that have the potential to cause the victims serious distress may be removed.”
D. “User uploads content that defames or vilifies a person, people, races, religion, or religious group.”
If You Don’t Like, Click Away
They also include these two very noteworthy gems:
a. “The things you see and read on Redbubble may include some content you do not like or agree with. You always have the choice to click away, enable the safe filter while browsing, or request that the work be reviewed.”
b. “Redbubble asks that you do not seek or engage with the content you don’t agree with (no need for troublemaking).”
So I would say that even if someone didn’t like my designs, Redbubble’s policies state they should ignore them and move along.
And here we are.
Looking at their policies, their hasty deletion of my account, their lack of transparency for why they closed it, and the severe lack of justification based on what I’ve read, I’m forced to conclude that Redbubble is either showing their anti-Israel bias, or this is just straight-up antisemitism.
But I defer. What do you think is happening here? With all the evidence you have at your disposal, why do you think my account was closed? Was it justified?
And if you agree with my assessment, what should we do about it?