After ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweatshirt gains notoriety, many copycat versions spread online
Hours after an unidentified man wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt entered the U.S. Capitol as part of a violent mob on Wednesday, copycat versions of the garment appeared on e-commerce platforms.
For a brief period after the riot, sweatshirts and t-shirts bearing the offensive slogan were available on Moteefe, a British website that allows individuals and small businesses to sell custom merchandise. Moteefe chief executive Mathijs Eefting said a user uploaded the design after pictures of the original sweatshirt had already spread on social media, although he declined to specify exactly when it appeared.
After a Forward reporter contacted Moteefe on Thursday morning, the company removed the design from its website.
Man at Capitol today wearing “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt. Back reads “Staff” pic.twitter.com/7KRGEIvNme
— Trevor McKee Achilles (@MrTAchilles) January 7, 2021
Eethling said it is common for “opportunists” to create merchandise that capitalizes on trending news topics or mimics viral designs. Moteefe uses a combination of image recognition software and manual review to evaluate products on its website.
“We do not condone any content that promotes misinformation, harassment or violence,” Eethling said.
Moteefe wasn’t the only place where “Camp Auschwitz” gear became available in the wake of riots at the Capitol. A YouTube video posted on Thursday morning advertised sweatshirts with that slogan, linking to the Moteefe listing as well as one on another e-commerce platform, Teezily, which a spokesperson said appeared after Wednesday’s events.
Not all such websites have acted to remove copycat designs. As of Friday afternoon, three separate, slightly different “Camp Auschwitz” shirts were available on the website TeeHands. One listing even included a picture of the unidentified man who stormed the Capitol, seemingly promoting the product through the original sweatshirt’s notoriety.
TeeHands did not respond to a request for comment.
E-commerce platforms which allow users to sell their products with little regulation often become unwitting hosts to hate speech. In the past, third-party vendors have used the retail giant Amazon to sell books denying the Holocaust, custom-made Nazi Lego figures, and Christmas ornaments featuring pictures of Auschwitz.