Teespring Is (Still) Selling Extremist Merchandise


By Daniel Malmer — Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Internet Extremism

Teespring has a history of selling extremist merchandise. Here’s some of what I found.

Takedown of Antifascist Merchandise

On August 7th, Antifa International announced in a tweet that Teespring had shut down their t-shirt fundraiser.

According to an email from Teespring:

The list was removed for the use of “Antifa” which is in violation of our acceptable use policy and not permitted on Teespring.com.

A quick look at Teespring’s Acceptable Use Policy reveals that it doesn’t contain the word “antifa,” so it’s unclear what they believed violated their policy.

Teespring later clarified in a tweet:

Teespring is not a fascist company. Due to the recent increase of violent Antifa content, we have removed all Antifa related listings until we are able to review the intent behind the designs. Reviewing this content will take some time, so we appreciate your understanding.

Depending on how much violent content they were seeing, and how difficult it was to control, it’s possible that a keyword ban might have been an appropriate short-term precaution.

But, if Teespring is concerned with “violent content,” why are there so many extremist products for sale on their platform?

What follows is a collection of just some of the extremist merchandise available on Teespring.

White Pride

The white pride merchandise is one of the most blatant examples that I came across, as “white pride” is a white supremacist slogan that’s well-known to the general public.

This white pride t-shirt appears to have been available on Teespring since September of 2019.

Teespring claims to have automated processes in place to prevent extremist content from appearing on their site. Automated processes can’t be expected to catch everything , but it’s difficult to believe that “white pride” isn’t part of their filter.

Nazi Imagery

Atomwaffen Division is neo-Nazi terrorist group. I’m not aware of any current Teespring merchandise that specifically mentions Atomwaffen, but they do offer this hoodie featuring the word “waffen” (German for “weapon”) and the Nazi SS’s dual lightning bolts.

It appears that this SS hoodie has been available for purchase on Teespring since January of 2020.

White Supremacist Slogans

The phrase “it’s OK to be white” has long been associated with the white supremacist movement.

According to the ADL:

“The phrase “It’s Okay To Be White” is a slogan popularized in late 2017 as a trolling campaign by members of the controversial discussion forum 4chan…

Whether the original trollers were white supremacist or not, actual white supremacists quickly began to promote the campaign — often adding Internet links to white supremacist websites to the fliers or combining the phrase with white supremacist language or imagery. This was not a surprise, as white supremacists had themselves used the phrase in the past — including on fliers — long before the 4chan campaign originated.

This “It’s OK To Be White” hoodie appears to have been on Teespring since June of 2019. The image of the young, white girl on the hoodie is characteristic of other forms of white supremacist imagery.


Incels (short for “involuntary celibate”) are a subset of the “hateful ideology” known as male supremacy.

The ADL refers to incels as “the most violent element of the manosphere.” They go on to say:

Law enforcement officials believe violent incels have murdered at least 47 people in North America in the last six years. That number is likely low, given how little we know about incels, and how recently they have become a community of interest for law enforcement.

Mass shooter Elliot Rodger is considered a “hero” and a “saint” by incels and has inspired other acts of violence.

You can still get their merchandise on Teespring. It appears that this “Proud Incel” t-shirt has been on their platform since March of 2020.


QAnon is a conspiracy theory movement particularly popular among right-wing extremists. The movement creates a dangerous unreality that has led a number of its adherents to commit violent acts.

In 2018, a Nevada man was charged with terrorism and aggravated assault after a police standoff that was motivated by his belief in QAnon.

West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center says that “QAnon represents a public security threat with the potential in the future to become a more impactful domestic terror threat.”

In spite of that, there’s quite a bit of QAnon merchandise on Teespring. This particular t-shirt appears to have been on their platform since July of 2020.

America First

During an interview in March of 2016, the current president described his foreign policy as “America First.” He was immediately rebuked by people who pointed out that the phrase was the slogan of the America First Committee, an isolationist organization of the 1940s.

The Anti-Defamation League urged the then presidential candidate to reconsider the use of the phrase, saying, in part:

The most noteworthy leader of the “America First Committee” was Charles Lindbergh, who sympathized with the Nazis and whose rhetoric was characterized by anti-Semitism and offensive stereotypes, including assertions that Jews posed a threat to the U.S. because of their influence in motion pictures, radio, the press, and the government.

Despite this, he continues to use the phrase, and people like Mark Dice sell merchandise with that slogan on Teespring.

Three Percenters

The SPLC calls the Three Percenters an “extreme antigovernment group.”

According to the ADL:

…in recent years, Three Percenters have not been as active in opposing the federal government, directing their ire at other perceived foes, including leftists/antifa, Muslims and immigrants.

In 2017, a man claiming affiliation with the Three Percenters attempted to detonate a bomb in Oklahoma City.

In spite of that, there’s plenty of Three Percenter merchandise available on Teespring. This Three Percenter coffee mug appears to have been on Teespring since March of 2018.

Identitarian Movement

The ADL describes the Identitarian movement as:

…a racist, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant movement that originated in France and spread to other countries in Europe and, eventually, the United States. Identitarianism is roughly analogous to the alt right segment of the white supremacist movement in the United States.

Germany’s domestic intelligence service considers them to be “a verified extreme right movement.”

The Christchurch shooter had extensive ties to the Identitarian movement.

This Identitarian t-shirt, featuring a logo that the ADL classifies as a hate symbol, appears to have been on Teespring since January of 2019.

Nationalism and Antisemitism

This hoodie appears to have been available for purchase on Teespring since October of 2019. The slogan is a clear reference to the removal of certain immigrants or ethnic groups, especially in the context of other merchandise from this vendor.

The Greek lettering is suggestive, as many white supremacists have expressed an affinity for Greco-Roman culture.

Context is important when interpreting the meaning of phrases or symbols. In the context of some extremist movement, the number “110” refers to Jewish people being expelled from the United States.

This coffee cup, from the same vendor, appears to have been available on Teespring since November of 2019.

Not the First Time

This isn’t the first time that Teespring has been in the spotlight for violent or extremist content.

In 2017, Teespring offered a t-shirt with the message “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.”

In 2018, Teespring sold a t-shirt celebrating Charleston shooter Dylann Roof. That same year, A Vice story revealed that merchandise from the neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division that was available on Teespring.

In 2019, the Counter Extremism Project published an article detailing extremist merchandise available on Teespring. The products included t-shirts that celebrated Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing, which inspired the attempted bombing in 2017 mentioned above.

It also included Atomwaffen merchandise. Again.

At what point will Teespring put policies and processes into place that will keep extremist content off their platform?

A Familiar Excuse

In explaining their failure to keep harmful content off their platforms, technology companies often make an appeal to the volume of content that they’re dealing with.


With over 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute, finding and taking action on violent extremist content poses a significant challenge.


“The reality is, with billions of posts every day, and millions of reports from users every day,” [Vice President of content policy Monika] Bickert says, “it’s just not something that we can operationalize at this scale.”


…a spokesperson for Teespring told VICE that the company utilizes “software to filter the 100K+ designs submitted daily, specifically to ensure that this type of content is not published on our site.”

That’s a reasonable explanation for why extremist content might remain on the site for several minutes. It’s not a reasonable explanation for why extremist content remains on their platform for several years, as much of the merchandise above apparently has.

If your business model makes it impossible to keep extremist material off your platform, you need a new business model.

A Recurring Pattern

The pattern at Teespring is a familiar one in the tech industry. An incident becomes public, which leads to negative press, which leads to a flurry of activity, a purge of the offending content, and an announcement that everything has been fixed.

More often than not, the problem resurfaces months or years later. The fixes have been superficial ones, not addressing the root causes. Or, the initial vigilance that often appears immediately after an incident wanes, and the problem creeps back in.

Either way, it’s common in tech for companies to treat incidents like this as public relations issues. They often care more about the press that they get than they do about fixing the problem for good.

Knowledge Gaps

To be fair to Teespring and other companies, extremism isn’t a simple topic. There are thousands of extremist groups, and they do their best to be able to signal to each other without revealing their true nature to the general public.

To the extent that there are gaps, companies should either hire people with the appropriate knowledge, or partner with organizations that study and catalog extremist movements.

The Anti-Defamation League, for example, maintains a database of hate symbols. The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors over 6,000 hate groups. Right Wing Watch covers thousands of extremist organizations.

The resources are out there. It’s up to platforms to make use of them.


Much more extremist content was brought to Teespring’s attention on Twitter. A number of vendors selling Oath Keeper, Groyper, and Boogaloo merchandise appear to have been removed in the past day. It’s unclear whether this was in response to people reporting the content on Twitter, but it had been on Teespring long enough for Google to have indexed it.

The public is owed an accounting of how much content they took down in response to these reports, how long it had been available for sale, and how much revenue it had generated.

Responsibility of Platforms

It’s up to corporations to operate their platforms in a safe and responsible way. That includes refusing to market extremist organizations. It includes refusing to fund extremist organizations. And, it includes refusing to profit from extremist organizations.

These are responsibilities that corporations like Teespring should always take seriously, not just when they’re being watched.

Daniel Malmer is Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Internet Extremism, a nonprofit organization that studies online propaganda, extremism, and radicalization.