Wednesday, February 11, 2009

eBay F*cking Censorship

There is a village in Austria called Fucking (thanks B.).  I did a search for postcards or other ephemera from Fucking, but mostly just came up with non-Austrian slogan T-shirts, music-related items and a few books.  Curiously, when I searched the word "fucking" on the US eBay site, I came up with just one or two items, but when I went to the Austrian and German eBays there were over 700 and 800 "fucking" items, respectively, but nothing to do with the village.  Admittedly, it's not surprising that no items are listed anywhere for the village of Fucking, as it is quite small, but it does appear to have a thriving tourist industry, somewhat dampened, perhaps, by all the sign thefts and cheeky comments, from ogling Brits in particular.  

The way different countries' eBay sites handle the word "fucking" got me thinking about eBay's censorship policy.  I've known for a long time that there was one – my Penis Soldiers were pulled off eBay almost ten years ago.  But I hadn't thought about it much since then.  The range (see below) is wildly varied, which makes you wonder if eBay really is "an international community" in any objective sense, or more a group of thirty very different countries (or auction sites in thirty different countries), each with its own distinct world view and unique determinations about what its citizenry, and foreign visitors to its site, should and shouldn't be exposed to.

Here's a breakdown of how many items come up with a search using the (Latin alphabet, English) word "fucking" on each of eBay's thirty sites:

Argentina  1
Australia  3
Austria  730
Belgium  717 in Dutch, or 6 in French + 120 from international sellers = 126
Brazil  6
Canada 13 + 14 from international sellers = 27
China  0
France  13 + 115 from international sellers = 128
Germany  870
Hong Kong  0
India  0
Ireland  18 + 3 from international sellers = 21
Italy  14 + 737 from international sellers = 751
Korea  couldn't determine the search box
Malaysia  4 from international sellers
Mexico  1
Netherlands  708
New Zealand  1 from an international seller
Philippines  4 from international sellers
Poland  718
Singapore  4 from international sellers
Spain  49 + 100 from international sellers = 149
Sweden  31
Switzerland  281
Taiwan  99
Thailand  0
Turkey  1
United Kingdom  23 + 3 from international sellers = 26
United States  1 + 1 from an international seller
Vietnam  0

Conclude at will.

By the way, I didn't see pornographic items on any of the sites when I used the search word "fucking," so there must be some policing beyond just automated filtering.  

And the good news:  You can get postcards and photos of the English Fulking.

Photo from (The sign below the place name reads, "Please, not so fast!"). 

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