Amazon site advertises shoes using racial slur

A brown formal shoe on a white background is seen with floating text above it - describing the shoe in detail, until the heading for "color" - which has been blurred out by the BBC in this imageImage copyright Amazon
Image caption The shoe contained a racial slur in its product description

Amazon has removed from sale a product with a racially offensive description after complaints from a UK MP.

The product’s description contained a highly offensive racial slur for black people.

Amazon said it had been removed from sale after the company became aware of the problem.

But it did not explain how the offensive word was published in the product description without being caught by any automatic filters.

Amazon said the item – a pair of brown formal shoes – was put up for sale from a “marketplace” seller. Those are third parties that sell through Amazon, but are not part of the company.

“All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action including potential removal of their account,” Amazon said.

“The product in question is no longer available.”

It would not, however, answer questions about what automatic filters were in place for listings and how such an offensive term got through.

The item was discovered by David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, who found the page while shopping for shoes.

“Just buying brown brogues tonight leads to this racist micro-aggression. Is it 2020 or 1720?” Mr Lammy wrote on Twitter, appealing to Amazon to take the page down.

After it was removed, he said he still had questions for the technology giant.

“Thank you Amazon for taking this down now, but given the item has been on sale since March, what systems do you have in place for reviewing descriptions and not allowing offensive terms to be posted in the first place?” he asked.

“This is not the first time,” he added.

Amazon recently removed neo-Nazi products from sale after being contacted during a BBC investigation, along with Google and retailer Wish.

Mr Lammy’s discovery comes after he was subjected to racist abuse online at the weekend, prompting him to report a Twitter user to the Metropolitan Police.

Afterwards, he criticised Twitter, saying the firm needed to be faster in its responses to racism.

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