The dark underbelly of commerce: Inappropriate targeted influencing

Back to School Knives: The Dark Underbelly of Influencers’ Favourite New Shopping App – Byline Times This is reporting on some concerned raised about the operations of Temu in the US, but I can confirm Temu UK is selling similar goods

The underlying concern here shouldn’t be that people can buy (age) inappropriate items on the internet, but whether influencing is targeting age groups for which the product is inappropriate.

As a quick comparison, eBay in the UK generally does not allow listings of larger knives at all (concerns about local pickup for cash type listings). And some bladed articles are unlawful or restricted in the UK generally. Slightly annoying as an adult looking to buy a ergonomic serrated bread knife for a relative, but not allowing listings of problematic products is at least a clear business principle.

But many other marketplaces e.g. Amazon UK and other dropshipper retailers e.g. Next, Dyas do sell such products with potential multiple uses in the UK (although generally needing a credit card for purchasing and delivery by post). And sometimes worse.

The former Tesco direct marketplace did utilise the ability for some parcel carriers to do age verification at door (parcel signed for) when shipping some products (and governed dropshippers accordingly as well), so the capability to put some useful guardrails around such sales is there, for the UK at least.

These companies all claim to be “following the local laws and will remove nefarious sellers etc”. Wish had this very problem and Temu should ensure that certain products are unavailable to UK customers.

I wonder how long it will take Temu to clean this up. Wish had multiple run-ins with lUK regulators over this very issue.