It is October again and that means it is the time of the year where Walmart is forced to pull down offensive Halloween costumes from its website.
First, there was a “Tranny Granny” costume that website LGBTQ Nation noted was “guaranteed to make your transgender friends cringe.” Then there was the “Thug Life Mask with Bandana” and just over the weekend, a “Suicide Scar” makeup kit had customers accusing the retailer of turning suicide into a joke.
This is not the first year Walmart has faced this type of controversy. Last year, both the “Little Amigo” and “Israeli Soldier Costume for Kids” were widely criticized before Walmart pulled them down and, in 2014, Walmart had to apologize for an entire selection of merchandise labeled “Fat Girl Costumes.”
What many of these costumes had in common is that they were sold by third party retailers through Walmart Marketplace. When Walmart has been forced to pull them down, they’ve issued statements making sure to say that the costumes violated its terms of service for third party sellers. Walmart’s prohibited products policy does have a whole section on what would be considered an offensive item and a Bloomberg article noted that there is a “trust and safety compliance team” that looks out for these types of incidents.
But is that enough?
Since Walmart has had to deal with this problem every year for the past three years, it seems like a good time to revisit their policies. Walmart needs to put measures in place so the items never make it to Walmart’s website to begin with so we can all have a happier, less offensive, Halloween.