eBay Community Protection

At a Glance

With more than 182 million users on the eBay platform, we recognize the importance of providing our customers a safe environment for commerce. To help create that environment, we invest significant resources and employ a variety of measures to detect and prohibit those who attempt to misuse our services. 

eBay has teams dedicated to ensuring our customers are provided a safe environment for commerce. To help create that environment, we invest significant resources and employ a variety of measures to detect and prohibit those who attempt to misuse our services. We also engage with regulators, law enforcement, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other third parties on these issues. Both private industry and the public sector have an important role to play in keeping the Internet open and safe. 

Issue in Detail

With more than 182 million users on the eBay platform, we recognize the importance of providing our customers a safe environment for commerce. To help create that environment, we invest significant resources and employ a variety of measures to detect and prohibit those who attempt to misuse our services. 

eBay maintains a robust set of policies designed to educate our customers and clearly define prohibited items and activity.  These policies are actively enforced by dedicated teams around the globe who are supported by sophisticated detection technology that monitors our platform in search of prohibited goods and practices, as well as reports from the eBay community.  When such activity is identified, we take action to stop it and, in appropriate cases, we remove users from our services.  We work with law enforcement to seek prosecution for criminal acts that impact our platform and our customers and we fully support stringent penalties for online crimes to create a strong deterrent effect.  We also work with regulatory agencies and other third party organizations everywhere we do business to leverage their expertise in creating and enforcing our policies.

One example of how our policies and relationships with external parties can have a positive global impact includes our efforts to address illegal wildlife trafficking. While the problem of illegal wildlife trafficking goes beyond our marketplace, and online commerce in general, we have taken several approaches to address the issue, including:

  • Proactive enforcement of our Animal and Wildlife Products Policy to block or remove prohibited listings;
  • Creating consumer awareness through our membership in the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online;
  • Receiving training from experts in illegal wildlife detection techniques and collaboration with industry peers on best practices; and,
  • Advocating for stronger laws to address wildlife trafficking, including with the European Commission in support of a complete ivory ban throughout the EU.

eBay believes that both private industry and the public sector have an important role to play in keeping the Internet open and safe. We collaborate with tech industry peers, retailers, brand owners, law enforcement agencies, trade associations and government regulators to share best practices and stay on top of emerging trends.  We also urge lawmakers to understand that the policies and programs we have voluntarily put in place, for the good of our customers and our company, can be much more effective than a one-size-fits-all regulatory or legislative mandate.  At the same time, we look forward to continued cooperation with our government and private sector partners to maintain and enhance these programs.

Partnership with Regulators and Private Sector Stakeholders

We have a longstanding and successful relationship with relevant consumer safety entities (both government and private sector) in the US and around the world. We engage with these entities on a regular basis through formalized and non-formalized channels. Some authorities have direct access to report and automatically remove listings for recalled items on our site. 

We partner with product safety authorities around the world, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the US, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

(ACCC) and Westminster Trading Standards in the UK. eBay is also one of four marketplace signatories of the European Commission’s Product Safety Pledge, and we cooperate with the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products, which facilitates daily information sharing amongst stakeholders, as well as the OECD Global Recalls Portal. 

Collaboration with Law Enforcement

eBay’s Global Asset Protection (GAP) team has investigators across the globe to support law enforcement agencies investigating and prosecuting cases affecting eBay’s services. The GAP team investigates the misuse of eBay’s platform and proactively refers counterfeit goods and retails theft cases to law enforcement for potential investigation and prosecution – in particular where the counterfeit items pose a health or safety risk to eBay’s users.

eBay’s Feedback System

eBay has designed a feedback system13 that allows buyers to learn14 about potential trading partners and consider comments from previous buyers about their satisfaction with a particular seller. The eBay feedback system is a cornerstone of a trusted eBay buying experience. eBay’s feedback system allows users to publicly inform other users of potentially bad behavior. eBay also uses the feedback system to proactively identify potential bad actor sellers. eBay’s internal teams also review user feedback for other complaints or trends. 

eBay Community Reporting

In addition to providing reviews, eBay allows our community of users to directly report suspected counterfeits. Each listing page on eBay contains a “Report Item” button that every registered eBay user can use to report a potentially counterfeit or otherwise objectionable item. Community access to this reporting form has been in place for years. Outside of the referrals received via the “Report Item” button, eBay has granted enhanced reporting capabilities to several hundred members of the eBay Community who have demonstrated an ability to report counterfeit or potentially infringing listings with a high degree of accuracy. This community of trusted members, who have expertise in their respective marketplace categories, assists us in identifying and removing problematic listings.

For counterfeit products, eBay’s feedback system allows users to publicly inform other users of potentially bad behavior. eBay also uses the feedback system to proactively identify potential sellers who may be infringing on intellectual property. eBay’s internal teams also review user feedback for other complaints or trends 

eBay Policies

Our approach to protecting the eBay community and preventing the sale of unlawful products is not limited to policing our site for potentially harmful listings, removing bad sellers, and supporting law enforcement and regulators investigations and prosecutions. We also commit resources to prevention and education for our users about harmful listings. To that end, eBay has help pages and instructional resources to ensure our users comply with applicable policies.

Prior to using our services, each member must read and accept the terms and conditions in eBay’s User Agreement as well as eBay’s Privacy Policy. The User Agreement explicitly requires that users refrain from violating any laws, including third party rights, and eBay policies. By design, the User Agreement gives eBay the discretion to impose contractual sanctions (like canceling listings or terminating accounts) in cases where eBay, in its sole discretion, determines users may have violated a law or a third parties’ rights without requiring an adjudication by a court or other governmental entity.

eBay’s policies also empower us to address risky or problematic sellers in a scaled and appropriate manner. For instance, we apply a range of consequences to questionable seller accounts that vary depending on a number of different factors and include a range of actions from warnings to restrictions, up to and including suspension from our site. These policies exist to deter repeat issues from the same seller. 

Technology Tools

Our deployed technology tools focus on keyword-based filter rules and technology models that look at seller’s history, feedback and identity in order to identify possible violations. These tools, coupled with manual searches, reports from authorities and users-generated flags allow us to take a cohesive approach to preventing, removing and deterring prohibited items from being sold on our platform.

We work diligently to have the correct filters in place in as timely as manner as possible. As such, our team works rigorously through a mix of manual and software tools to capture all of the various keyword combinations to implement filters in order to target the correct products. With 1.5 billion listings at any given time, we are constantly evolving our approaches to make sure the correct filters are in place so that prohibited items remain off of our platform.

eBay deploys a mix of image detection and machine learning tools alongside its filtering systems to complement the incredible work of our human reviewers - there is no one-size-fits-all answer to addressing bad actors. We fully understand the dynamic nature of our fight against bad actors and we are constantly pursuing opportunities to update our policies, technologies, and to train our teams.

eBay works to proactively remove potentially problematic listings. Before it appears on the site, every potential eBay listing is reviewed by automated filters that block problematic listings or else flag them for manual review by eBay agents. eBay’s filters are constantly being revised, and eBay is actively developing and deploying additional capabilities through image recognition and machine learning technology, to check on the veracity of information provided by users.