Shopify has taken down online stores run by the Trump Organization and Trump campaign following the riot held Wednesday at the United States Capitol.
The move was made Thursday, with both TrumpStore.com and shop.donaldjtrump.com showing error messages. The stores sold official Trump-branded apparel and other merchandise.
“Shopify does not tolerate actions that incite violence.”
First to report the move, The Wall Street Journal noted the sites were taken down after Shopify’s trust and safety team, which monitors the platform, decided Trump’s comments on Wednesday violated its policy.
“Shopify does not tolerate actions that incite violence,” a Shopify spokesperson told BetaKit. “Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause. As a result, we have terminated stores affiliated with President Trump.”
Shopify is among other tech companies that have suspended Trump-related accounts. Both Twitter and Facebook locked the president’s accounts after Wednesday’s events.
The move is a notable one for Shopify, which in the past has upheld the right for customers to use its platform despite possible differing views. The Ottawa-based company has faced long-standing criticism of its company policies for allowing “white supremacist” organizations to use Shopify for their online stores.
The criticisms originally surfaced in early 2017 over Shopify hosting the online store of far-right publication Breitbart, which is known for its popularity amongst white nationalists. The company faced internal and external pressure to take down the site. Shopify founder and CEO Tobi Lütke, at the time, released a statement noting Shopify did not advertise on the site or endorse the views of Breitbart. “Products are a form of speech, and free speech must be fiercely protected, even if we disagree with some of the voices,” he said.
“We don’t like Breitbart, but products are speech and we are pro free speech,” the CEO added. “This means protecting the right of organizations to use our platform even if they are unpopular, or if we disagree with their premise, as long as they are within the law.”
Shopify updated its policy standards in 2018, in response to sustained criticism, banning groups that promote hate or violence. The e-commerce giant called the move “[a] proactive measure on our part to ensure we keep our platform free of anyone seeking to promote hate or violence.” Breitbart, however, was one organization that was not affected by Shopify’s policy change. Breitbart’s online store continues to be powered by Shopify.
In response to questions in June 2020 about whether Shopify plans to ban groups like Breitbart from using its platform, Shopify told BetaKit it does not comment on individual merchants. A Shopify spokesperson, at the time, pointed BetaKit to its Acceptable Use Policy, which describes activities that are not permitted on the Shopify platform.
Under the policy, Shopify prohibits a number of activities spanning copyright infringement, child exploitation, and illegal activities. Shopify also prohibits harassment, bullying, defamation and threats; terrorist organizations; and hateful content including the promotion of hate or violence “based on race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, veteran status or other forms of discriminatory intolerance.”
Shopify notes that its services cannot be used to “promote or support organizations, platforms or people that: (i) promote or condone such hate; or (ii) threaten or condone violence to further a cause.”