An online dictionary that allows users to upload their own definitions of slang words is under mounting pressure to remove all content mocking the Holocaust from its website.
Urban Dictionary is a popular online dictionary of slang words and phrases, comprising millions of definitions ranked and uploaded by online users.
The website, now in its 21st year, says it receives on average 180 million page-views a month. It carries third-party advertising and sells branded merchandise of mugs, t-shirts, and other items printed with user-generated definitions.
Among the items available for purchase on the website’s e-commerce platform is a £19 mug marked “Auschwitz Abs”, defined as “a particular set of circumstances in which one has a deficient amount of body fat causing them to look like a Nazi concentration camp tenant.” The item is also available as a £23 t-shirt and a £36 sweatshirt.
Another £19 mug – also available as a t-shirt and a sweatshirt – bearing the word “Auschwitztistic” defines the term as “a person who is a jew and autistic.”
The branded items drew outrage from officials at the Auschwitz Memorial, who took to social media on Tuesday. “Are you really profit [sic] from selling such awful items? Not monitoring new entries is one thing,” a tweet from the memorial read. “A conscious choice to produce ‘Auschwitztistic’ mug is another level of ignorance and disrespect.”
In response, a spokesperson for Urban Dictionary wrote on Wednesday: “Thanks again for holding us accountable. Every definition automatically generates options to print—we agree that it’s inappropriate for these items to be printed or even offered, and we’ve blocked the ability to do so. It may take 24 hours for pages to fully update.”
The statement came after the lexicon was forced to apologise on Monday over other “hurtful and disrespectful” definitions mocking the Holocaust.
Entries for Auschwitz defined the Nazi death camp as a “summer camp for Jews – a disneyland for its time,” the “happy resort for Jews during WW2”, and the act of “letting a horrible smelling fart while taking a shower with one’s significant other.”
The definitions, reported by Auschwitz Memorial on Monday, were taken down and all surrounding content would be under review, a statement from the website said. “It may take 24 hours for these changes to take effect,” it read.
“Thank you for speaking up—we’re deeply sorry and honestly, we must do better. We encourage anyone to flag definitions that use hate speech,” it stated, in response to Auschwitz Memorial’s criticism.
Urban Dictionary’s terms of service bans users from publishing any material “detrimental to the quality or intended spirit”of Urban Dictionary.
Users have the option of reporting any abusive or harmful content they encounter on the website. Entries deemed to violate the site’s policy tend to be removed within two days, according to the website.
But the crowd-sourced online dictionary has been accused of opening the door to racist, misogynistic and homophobic content with its platform.
The highest ranked definition of “Hillary Clinton”, which drew some 1,591 “up-votes”, describes the former Democratic presidential candidate as a “special served at KFC consisting of 2 fat thighs, 2 small breasts, and a left wing.”
An entry for the term “Rothschild” is defined as a “family that owns more than 1/2 the worlds wealth and managed to keep it on the down low.” The Rothschild family are at the heart of an age-old antisemitic canard about Jewish influence, given new lease of life on social media in recent years.
Urban Dictionary was contacted for comment.