It seems no one is behind the wheel.
Next time you peruse Walmart's online shop, you may find yourself browsing through some eyebrow-raising offerings, including flags to show your undying support for marijuana or the fetish of your choice.
Perhaps that's not what you expected to see at Walmart, a retailer that has long courted a conservative customer base. Or maybe that pup play fetish flag is exactly what you were looking for. Heck, maybe you're looking for a not-so-discreet "personal massager," or a notebook adorned with weed-themed Hannukah art, or a book that would make Tucker Carlson furious. Either way, the problem isn't the items themselves — rather, they're the perfect illustration of how Walmart and other online retailers have decided to prioritize an unfathomable quantity of products rather than any discernable aspect of quality, sex blogger Cliff Jerrison pointed out on Twitter.
"The fact that Walmart.com will sell you a gay weed flag or a pup pride flag is hilarious, except that it's an indicator that they're not vetting products at all," Jerrison tweeted.
The problem, as Jerrison and others identify in the Twitter thread, is that less reliable vendors started to elbow their way into online marketplaces' search results by filling their listings with a word salad of keywords related to what customers might be searching for. Then, in order to compete, sellers that actually sell high-enough quality products had to do the same.
For example, that rainbow weed flag is actually called the "Rainbow Marijuana Pot Leaf USA Polyester Banner Hippie New," and the fetish flag is listed as a "3x5 Puppy Pride Waterproof Flag LGBT Gay Pride Pup Role Play Banner Polyster" — neither of which is remotely similar to the real name of a product that would fly on a platform with quality control.
"It crept up on us sort of slowly but at some point, every major online vendor calculated it was more profitable to say '10,000,000 options!' than ;we remove low-quality products and fake reviews,' and now everything from eBay to Walmart has turned into AliExpress," Jerrison tweeted.
He added that a simple chore like trying to buy bedsheets online now means wading through "50,000 five-star reviews that do not pass the Turing test" — an unfortunately common experience no matter what you're looking for.
More on bizarre online shops: Darknet Marketplaces Are Full of COVID-19 Tests and Medicine