May 14, 2020

Congressional Leaders Call on Facebook and Craigslist to Stop Allowing Sales of Dangerous Infant Sleepers

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) Vice Chair of Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Energy & Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair, and Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT), Ranking Member of the Commerce Manufacturing, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee sent letters to both Facebook and Craigslist to protect Americans from the sale of products that have been deemed unsafe and deadly to infants. While so many families are staying home and turning to online marketplaces to purchase much-needed products, it is important to prevent the sale of products that pose serious risks to consumers.

As the letter highlights, a recent study commissioned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that none of the inclined sleep products tested are safe for infant sleep, adding to the growing body of evidence that infant inclined sleepers are not safe. Based on the study’s results, the CPSC issued a warning to parents and caregivers to stop using all infant inclined sleepers. The Commission also voted unanimously to publish a proposed rule that would effectively prohibit all infant inclined sleep products. Several major retailers, including Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, eBay, and Walmart, have already removed all infant inclined sleepers from their stores and/or online marketplaces, in recognition of the overwhelming research that infant inclined sleepers are inherently unsafe.

“Facebook’s and Craigslist’s refusal to ban inclined sleeper products from their platforms needlessly risks the lives of children whose parents otherwise believe these products to be safe. It’s especially reckless to be refusing to do so during a national pandemic emergency, when more and more parents are at home with their infant children,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Other platforms have taken this step to protect their customers in the spirit of the proposed rule, and it’s a disgrace that I have to say Facebook and Craigslist must follow. And while Facebook promotes their Portal product on television in advertisements acknowledging the additional time we are all spending in our homes, it’s allowing these dangerous products to be purchased on their platform, once again betraying consumer trust. I urge both companies to right this wrong immediately, and for Senate Majority Leader McConnell to pass Vice Chair Cardenas’ bill to ban these unsafe products once and for all. How many babies have to die before Facebook and Craiglist do the right thing?”

Congressman Tony Cárdenas added, “the coronavirus pandemic has forced American families to stay home in order to prevent the spread of the virus. That means that everyday routines, including shopping, are now mostly done online. While inclined sleeper products have been removed off of store shelves, these deadly products have, unfortunately, not been completely banned from online marketplaces. Last year, I introduced a bill that bans sleeper products that have been linked to nearly 100 infant deaths, but online marketplaces like Facebook and Craigslist still allow for the purchase of these items. New parents are often unaware of the safety risks of these sleeper products which is why I’m calling on all online retailers to immediately ban the sale of dangerous inclined sleepers on their websites. The lives of American babies must come before corporate profits.”

“Parents are at home and trying to balance full-time jobs with full-time childcare. They’re also shopping online instead of in stores, and in the current economic climate, may be more likely to look for secondhand products – all factors that may make them more likely to purchase deadly inclined sleepers. Facebook and Craigslist should heed our call to remove these dangerous products from their online marketplaces. Children’s lives are on the line,” said Senator Blumenthal.

"Facebook and Craigslist should immediately commit to ban and block listings on their sites for inclined sleepers. The evidence clearly shows inclined sleepers are not safe for infant sleep, and these companies need to step up,” said Oriene Shin, policy counsel for product safety at Consumer Reports. “Consumers should not be left guessing whether an infant sleeper is safe or could leave their baby at serious risk. We thank Congresswoman Schakowsky, Senator Blumenthal, and Congressman Cárdenas for demanding action, and urge the Senate to pass their critical legislation to help parents and caregivers keep their babies safe."

A copy of the letter to Facebook is available HERE, and a copy of the Craigslist letter is available HERE.