Google, Amazon, eBay, and most other tech giants refuse to allow their users to sell ivory on their platforms. But if you use Yahoo’s Japanese site, you’re welcome to sell all the ivory you want — in fact, the Guardian estimates that more than 12 tons of elephant tusks and ivory jewelry were sold on the site between 2012-2014. A petition from Avaaz argues that Yahoo Japan’s policies are giving poachers an online platform and directly fueling the illegal ivory trade. Sign it now and tell Yahoo this is completely unacceptable!
Selling ivory online isn’t just unethical — it may also violate a global UN ban on ivory sales dating back to 1989. Yahoo Japan has attempted to justify its policies by claiming that only ivory that pre-dates the UN ban is allowed on the site, but in reality, there have been countless cases of ivory sellers falsely claiming their products are antiques. This is such a widespread issue that last year, President Obama began to formally crack down on these “legal” ivory sales in the US.
This isn’t the first time Yahoo Japan has come under fire for selling products related to endangered animals. In the past, the company has been criticized for selling whale and dolphin meat on its platform, despite the fact that every other major online retailer in Japan refuses to carry those products.
So what does Yahoo Inc., the American parent company, have to say about its Japanese arm profiting off the deaths of endangered elephants? Sadly, not much. In a recent statement, the company disclaimed any responsibility, stating that Yahoo Japan is not a subsidiary of Yahoo Inc., and that CEO Marissa Meyer has no power to influence the Japanese company’s policies. Even if Meyer has no direct authority over Yahoo Japan, the reality is that Yahoo owns about a third of the company’s stock, and as a major shareholder, should be able to raise the issue with Yahoo Japan’s leadership.
Yahoo Japan has pledged to review its ivory policies, but has made no promises to end the trade on its website. If this makes you angry — and it should — you can join the 1,227,000 people who have already signed the petition here.