At eBay, we are committed to ensuring consumer and employee safety and protection. We have been closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as it continues to develop and have taken significant measures to block or quickly remove items from our marketplace that make false health claims or offer products at inflated prices in violation of applicable laws. This week, we are doubling down on our efforts by expanding the list of prohibited items.
eBay is an open marketplace with 1.3 billion listings live at any given time. As a pure third-party marketplace, we use technologies and services to enable independent sellers — including hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses — to sell their inventory, and allow buyers to find exactly what they need, virtually anytime and anywhere.
With millions of transactions happening every day on our platform across more than 190 markets, we are constantly evaluating and making improvements to ensure prohibited items remain off eBay. We continue to partner at the federal, state and local level with government officials, including Attorneys General from across the country, as we execute a number of measures to ensure our marketplace remains a safe and trusted space in which our sellers can sustain and grow — and our buyers can find what they want — during this unprecedented time.
Measures We’re Implementing Across Our Marketplace
We have a zero-tolerance policy on price gouging on our marketplace to ensure buyers are able to find essential items at reasonable prices, especially during challenging and extraordinary times like those we face today. Since early February, we have prohibited products marketed with the term “coronavirus,” which violate our policies against making unsubstantiated health claims.
Beginning on March 5, we implemented a ban on certain items listed on our site, which includes blocking new listings and removing existing ones that sell: masks including N95/N100 and surgical masks; hand sanitizers/gels; and disinfecting wipes. This week, we expanded the restricted items list to include toilet paper, baby formula and baby wipes, tampons and diapers, which will only be permitted for sale by business sellers in a fixed price format. In addition, we have added a price gouging reporting tool, allowing people to report items that violate our policies in real time.
We also continue to quickly remove any listing that mentions COVID-19, coronavirus, 2019nCoV (except books) in the title or description, and users who search for such items on our site are shown an informational banner with a link to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. We have been communicating these updates to our sellers and directing sellers to our Disaster and Tragedy policy.
How We’re Removing Prohibited Items
We use a rules-based filtering system with algorithms that identify and block prohibited items and have a team of customer service agents dedicated to round-the-clock manual review to remove any listings not caught by our tools. The manual reviews include removing all listings for certain items, like masks and sanitizers; products with inflated prices; and products making false health claims, including test kits.
To date, this combination of enforcement efforts has resulted in the blocking or removal of over 500,000 listings in violation of our policy related to the coronavirus.
Our Commitment to Sellers and Global Community
While we are doubling down on the efforts to ensure our marketplace is safe and secure, we remain committed to our seller and small business community. Recently, we announced several measures on how we are supporting and protecting our sellers during this time, including the opportunity for certain sellers to defer payment for 30 days. We’ve also launched a dedicated space on our Community Forum for our sellers to receive the latest updates around COVID-19 and to share and answer questions from other sellers.
Now, more than ever, small- and medium-sized businesses are using our platform to connect with buyers and deliver what they need most, and we remain committed to their success.
Since we began in 1995, our marketplace has been based on the strong ethical values we follow as a business: openness, honesty, integrity and trust. We continue to live our purpose every day — to enable people and create economic opportunity. As a purpose-driven technology company, we embrace and honor the trust our global community puts in us to maintain a secure platform.
For more eBay news and updates related to the coronavirus outbreak, please visit our seller community center. For information on government support for small businesses, visit eBay’s Government Relations site at eBayMainStreet.com/covid19.