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"She signed up a year ago, under the old privacy policy, and hasn't logged in since 2010. And now I know what dildo she uses."
March 14, 2011 3:56 PM   Subscribe

In a move reminiscent of Facebooks Beacon program, Etsy's new People Search feature has exposed account details, including purchase histories and real names, of its buyers and sellers. Here's how to opt out.
posted by lalex (61 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does every site have to have social networking? Really? Because honestly, I go to Etsy to buy stuff, not to commune with my friends.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:13 PM on March 14, 2011 [34 favorites]


I can't wait until my bank launches a social networking feature so I can see what cool clubs or stores my friends are going to and get ideas for some really hip transactions I could do.
posted by milkrate at 4:14 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't wait until my bank launches a social networking feature so I can see what cool clubs or stores my friends are going to and get ideas for some really hip transactions I could do.

You mean like Blippy?
posted by grouse at 4:18 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a very difficult time trying to imagine the sort of thought process that convinces someone that this would ever be a good idea. Yet, it seems to happen time and time again in the technology/marketing nexus.

Of course, neither those two realms seem to have ever come to grasps with the caveat "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should".
posted by Thorzdad at 4:20 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks - I actually don't have any personally-identifying information attached to my Etsy account save for my email, but the lack of official notification is extremely troubling.
posted by muddgirl at 4:22 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


What a bunch of (tasteful, glass) dildos.
posted by zippy at 4:22 PM on March 14, 2011


You mean like Blippy?

FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:23 PM on March 14, 2011


This happened to me and no matter how much I try to tell my friends that it was a family member who ordered the golden steam punk anal beads they will not listen.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:23 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Now I'll know who the hell is buying all those stupid fucking crocheted hats.
posted by lattiboy at 4:24 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Requisite statement that every company seems to ignore:

I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO FUCKING OPT OUT OF YOU SHARING MY PERSONAL INFORMATION, ASSHOLES!
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:24 PM on March 14, 2011 [35 favorites]


Sinister 'phase two' of every internet company: sell user info to make actual money
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:25 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


monju_bosatsu: "FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU"

You've been FUing for two years now, you know that, right?
posted by boo_radley at 4:26 PM on March 14, 2011


Does every site have to have social networking? Really? Because honestly, I go to Etsy to buy stuff, not to commune with my friends.

Yes, because people do not have original ideas and do their best to seem "hep" and "with it", hopelessly dating themselves in the process. The best thing with all these shallow open confessionals for me is that I just don't care who is buying bunny slippers and who bragging about having meatloaf for supper...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 4:28 PM on March 14, 2011


You've been FUing for two years now, you know that, right?

I've been FUing for a lot long than that, believe me.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:29 PM on March 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't think I've ever bought anything on Etsy, although I've looked there a lot, and now I'm pretty sure I never will. At least most of the other "social networking" aspects of online stores I use are optional.
posted by immlass at 4:31 PM on March 14, 2011


Yay, so now I can see who purchased a Knitted Vagina Purse with Matching Penis Sock? Excellent!
And I can see it now: "We're sorry Mr. Anderson, but we are letting you go because of purchases you've made on Etsy, obviously while drunk and/or high, and we cannot have people who lack self control here at DC&H".
posted by Old'n'Busted at 4:31 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the interest of getting out in front of this: I swear that I only bought that men's kilt because I have really beautiful legs.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:32 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lovely. At least it's relatively straight forward to opt out of. Not that it makes a hell of a lot of difference. How hard is it - really - to warn users of massive changes in the privacy policy?
posted by stoneweaver at 4:35 PM on March 14, 2011


Also, I only hired Greg because I have this kilt that I wasn't otherwise using.
posted by maxwelton at 4:35 PM on March 14, 2011


How hard is it - really - to warn users of massive changes in the privacy policy?

Apparently not that hard. I've made one purchase -A PAINTING I SWEAR- from Etsy years ago, yet they sent me an email after the Gawker hack to let me know that my email/password combination may be vulnerable. Yet I've heard nothing from them about this massive change to their privacy policy.
posted by lalex at 4:40 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


we cannot have people who lack self control here at DC&H

That's what I don't get about this Brave New Connected World. On the one hand, I'm told that wanting privacy makes me quaint and old-fashioned. On the other hand, I'm told that I'd better watch everything I do and say because it might wind up on my Permanent Record. My work encouraged everyone to friend them on Facebook and Twiitter...then locked down the Internet and warned us that we better not do or say anything that reflects badly on them on Facebook or Twitter!
posted by JoanArkham at 4:44 PM on March 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is stupid. I'm one of those people that don't really give a rat's ass what people know about me, so I don't care if people know what I buy or like.

This said, Etsy is like the one place where I use a fake name, so no one will know I bought pictures of bunnies! I could never live that down.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:44 PM on March 14, 2011


And if opting out isn't enough for you, here's how to close your account: Log in, click Your Account in the upper right corner, click Settings on the left side, scroll to the bottom and click Close Account and then Close Account to confirm.

They send a note with the account closing confirmation; I replied and let them know I closed my account because they had lost my trust forever.
posted by ChrisHartley at 4:50 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got an email from Etsy on January 31st with the subject, "An important message about a new feature and our Privacy Policy," so I knew this was coming. Strange that they didn't send this same email to all users. I was annoyed at the time because they mentioned that if you didn't want to participate you would be able to opt out, but included no information on how to do so and didn't say exactly when it was going live (the target date mentioned in the email was "mid-February").

I poked around my settings and didn't see any applicable options at the time, so I just trusted that the shit would hit the fan soon and I'd be reminded to update my settings. And now I have been, so thank you, lalex. Luckily there was nothing critical for me about having my name and email tied to my account for a brief amount of time, but it's completely ridiculous for Etsy not to have realized what a terrible idea this was.
posted by des at 5:09 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. The first name/last name fields aren't even required. Mine have been blank for 3 years. Why would anyone unnecessarily volunteer that info?

(I hate that "search etsy by your email" thing tho. pleh.)
posted by elizardbits at 5:09 PM on March 14, 2011


This happened to me and no matter how much I try to tell my friends that it was a family member who ordered the golden steam punk anal beads they will not listen.

Cory? Is that you?
posted by Ratio at 5:11 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah I was all ready to be fully HET UP. Then I realized that I never filled out my first or last name, so go ahead Etsy, you share that.

That said, it's still bullshit.
posted by grapesaresour at 5:19 PM on March 14, 2011


Why would anyone unnecessarily volunteer that info [first/last name]? I put mine in when I set up a shop, because that seemed like a nice touch. I didn't think about its connection to what I was buying, only what I'm selling. (earrings!)

I bought a crocheted hat a few years ago, ostensibly for mr epersonae. It looked better on me.
posted by epersonae at 5:22 PM on March 14, 2011


I'm not sure I understand how this sharing feature is supposed to be more profitable for Etsy. I'd already assumed that Etsy could sell this information to advertisers to make money. How does it add any value to show my purchase history to other Etsy users?

I don't get it.
posted by odinsdream at 5:25 PM on March 14, 2011


derp derp, yes. obvsly it makes sense for SELLERS to do so. argh.

fresh direct where are you. my lack of noms is making me feeble-minded.
posted by elizardbits at 5:25 PM on March 14, 2011


I had to log in, which meant remembering my old password, which of course I'd forgotten, and getting a new one meant getting one e-mail from Etsy, clicking on a link, waiting for a second e-mail from Etsy, clicking on another link, and then I could go and change my privacy settings so nobody would know about the Twilight stickers I'd bought for a friend, I swear. That's ridiculous.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:32 PM on March 14, 2011


I wonder if social sites track the spike in privacy setting adjustments and correlate it with the news item that actually alerts their customers to the stupid policies in the first place.
posted by odinsdream at 5:36 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It never ocurred to me that my Etsy favorites were private in the first place. I know I'm supposed to be outraged but I just am not. (Then again, my chief privacy issue is that I don't have a very well-developed sense of privacy.)

Thinking about it, my primary concern is that it never occured to me that I could find handmade glass dildos on Etsy and add them to my favorites list. I shall go fix that immediately.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:49 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, that Etsy Bitch blog is really angry at Etsy and have been for at least a few weeks (that's as far as I can read back right now, their tone is really strident...). Why is it that every online entity consistently gets the same things wrong over and over when it comes to rolling out changes?
posted by amethysts at 6:04 PM on March 14, 2011


Why does every goddamn thing have to be a social network?
posted by Legomancer at 6:19 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Uuuuugh. Thanks for this. The most embarrassing thing I've ever bought on Etsy was probably an overpriced pair of earrings, but this is just crazypants. Why do companies do this crap? Does an evil genius marketing consortium roll into town, sell them on social networking, and then ride off into the sunset, cackling madly?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 6:35 PM on March 14, 2011


Big ol' sigh. It makes me sad that Etsy puts time and effort into these silly features when seller tools are seriously lacking. It's 5-6 years old and has all the gracefulness of eBay circa 1997. Sometimes I wish I knew nothing about search, databases or web development, because then I could be blissfully ignorant.
posted by Calzephyr at 6:49 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm torn... on the one hand it's better as a general rule not to make personal information public. On the other hand, maybe if I leave my favourites public some of my secret admirers will buy me some of the things I've got favourited.;-)
posted by orange swan at 6:58 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I cannot understand why they would disable search for item descriptions (even Ebay has that!) and then introduce "circles" and people searching and all sorts of extraneous garbage. I find a lot fewer cool things now, which presumably Etsy wants me to share with everyone in my address book ... good luck with that.
posted by amber_dale at 7:19 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can check out any time, but you can never leave...

"What happens when you close your Account?

You can reopen your account any time.
Email support@etsy.com when you want to return. No one will be able to use your username, and your account settings will remain intact."
posted by BlooPen at 8:47 PM on March 14, 2011


I am so seriously sick of social networking. Must it infect EVERY SINGLE GODDAMNED THING ON THE INTERNET?!
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:12 PM on March 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wow, that Etsy Bitch blog is really angry at Etsy and have been for at least a few weeks - amethysts

I wonder if that has anything to do with the "Sponsored by Shoply" ad featured prominently on the blog?
posted by Horatius at 10:06 PM on March 14, 2011


I didn't even notice that big old ad... I guess I'm getting trained to ignore the ad-filled sidebars of things.. but I got the sense that the bitching was like the "I bitch because I care/because if things didn't suck so hard I wouldn't have to bitch at all" kind.
posted by amethysts at 11:03 PM on March 14, 2011


Thanks for the notice on this. I closed my account and replied to their verification email by writing "I should not have to opt out of privacy. You should opt me into privacy. Its too bad because I liked your store."
posted by iurodivii at 11:25 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Never looked at Etsy before. The search box returns far too many items that have nothing to do with the term entered.

I can see why they'd go to being a networking site. Clearly they don't do retail worth a damn.
posted by Goofyy at 2:13 AM on March 15, 2011


Goofyy: I can see why they'd go to being a networking site. Clearly they don't do retail worth a damn

Etsy disagrees to the tune of about $10million USD per month.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:09 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much this will end up reinforcing the Etsy circle jerk of sellers being buyers, etc. Often it seems like Etsy stores are less small businesses, and more a way for friends to trade shit between themselves and pretend they're 'working'.

Not that that's true of all Etsy businesses, but a significant number of them.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:47 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]



I wonder if that has anything to do with the "Sponsored by Shoply" ad featured prominently on the blog?


You'd have to ask the bitches themselves...but I believe last year they were quite involved with Artfire.

Etsy disagrees to the tune of about $10million USD per month.

I often find this puzzling. Someone figured out once that the average Etsy sale is $15. Just what is being sold and for how much? I'd like to know :-) Any sort of sales stuff seems to be anecdotal.

Never looked at Etsy before. The search box returns far too many items that have nothing to do with the term entered.

This is a big problem for any site that uses an open search vocabulary and relies on users to enter keywords.
posted by Calzephyr at 6:29 AM on March 15, 2011


Apparently I never put in a Real Name or photo, ever. Which, frankly, makes me wonder why anyone who didn't want that information to be public would do so.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:19 AM on March 15, 2011


As for why people would put in their real name, I think you need to remember how many people aren't as net-savvy as your average Mefite. When I heard about this privacy shemozzle, I noted it to a net-unsavvy friend over MSN and after checking her account she admitted her real name was visible there.

I mentioned to her that info was optional, and asked why she'd put it on there originally. Her reply: 'Because it asked for it, i thought i had to give it or it wouldn't let me check out. That's happened to me before on other sites, so i thought i had to do it there'.

Probably a lot of people like my friend out there.

Colour me pissed that I heard not a whit about this from Etsy itself, though. Had i been informed and told it was opt-out, fine, whatever, i'd just go change my account settings. I shouldn't have to hear about this stuff from third-party sites to know it's happened, though.
posted by pseudonymph at 7:39 AM on March 15, 2011


I know Etsy has some flaws, but I LOVE Etsy. I joined up just over a year ago, a little over a month after being burgled and losing most of my jewelry (for the second time, sigh). The first thing I bought on there was a pin for mother's day. My mother likes owls, so I wanted to get her an owl brooch. I'd looked in lots of Toronto stores without ever seeing one. I typed in "owl brooch gold" and got pages of gold-tone owl brooches. I picked out the cutest one and, even after shipping, paid less than $15 for it.

Since then I've bought a total of 32 items and not had a single bad experience. When one item didn't arrive the seller gave me a total refund. When the item finally arrived after about four months and I contacted the seller, she told me to keep the refund anyway. All the sellers I've dealt with have been pleasant and efficient and eager to please. And some are incredibly talented.

I made a list of the jewelry items I wanted and have been working my way through it, plus buying more items that struck my fancy. I've also been collecting swan items, and buying some gifts for other people. Most swan stuff is tacky so I have to wade through several pages of it before I find an item that interests me enough to click it open. I also have to type in "swan -bella -twilight -black" to get rid of the Black Swan and Twilight crap. But it's worth it. I love unique and vintage stuff, I have very specific tastes, and there's nowhere else on the planet that I could go to get the kind of selection Etsy has, let alone with generally reasonable prices and home delivery.

I find the search engine to be pretty good, considering. It helps if you hone your search terms and search regularly so you only have to go through the latest items. There is a lot of crap on there, a lot of sellers claiming to be selling vintage or handmade items that are plainly neither, and some sellers set their prices way too high. But it's pretty easy for me to ignore that. I love Regretsy too, and am always astounded at what I see on it because I never see that kind of crap on Etsy myself. I'm too focused on looking for quality items.
posted by orange swan at 7:49 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got an email from Etsy on January 31 notifying me of the new privacy policy. When this story hit a few days ago, I did a search for my username and Etsy, and sure enough, I found my profile, which has always been public. It included my favorites but not my purchases. And no identifying information, other than my username which I use all over the web. Not a huge deal, I think.
posted by donajo at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2011


Here's the Jan 31st notification from Etsy:
Hello!

We recently launched a new feature, Circles, that lets you connect with other people on Etsy. When you add someone to your Etsy circle, you can follow along with their favorites in your activity feed. It's illuminating!

Right now it's hard to find people you know on Etsy, and that's sad. Well, we're changing that. We're making it easy to connect your email address book to Etsy, so we can find people you know who are also members.

(If you don't want people you know to be able to find you, you will be able easily to opt out through your account privacy settings.)

We're letting you know about this in advance, and will be launching this feature in mid-February.

We have also revised our Privacy Policy in anticipation of this feature. You can review our Privacy Policy here: http://www.etsy.com/policy/privacy

If you have any questions or comments, please visit http://www.etsy.com/contact to get in touch.

You're receiving this email because you registered on Etsy.com with this email address.

Thanks!
The Etsy Team
Emphasis mine. Note that it does not provide instructions for opting out, and furthermore it does not specifically mention that people will be able to link your email address/name to your purchase history/favorites.
posted by muddgirl at 8:43 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


We recently launched a new feature, Circles,

"We, for example, are in the ninth circle, also known as treachery however we are hoping to move into the fourth one, greed, as soon as possible . You now appear to be in the wrathful sullen fifth, and we're very sorry about that."

It's illuminating!

"We have also completely failed to understand why this is the whole problem you are having with this."
posted by quin at 9:11 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


muddgirl: furthermore it does not specifically mention that people will be able to link your email address/name to your purchase history/favorites

Right. I got that email and ignored it because I have zero interest in linking my email address to other people I know on Etsy and turning it into a social network. That's fine. What's not fine is NOT telling me that if I do nothing, New Stuff Happens I know nothing about until it's reported in the media.

#PRfail #privacyfail
posted by DarlingBri at 9:15 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weird, I didn't get the e-mail at all (just checked through my trash and spam folders, too). I wonder how they chose to send it to. Or, I suppose, it could be that they tried to send it to everyone but the backend failed somehow.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:31 AM on March 15, 2011


Etsy responds with some clarifications.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:38 PM on March 15, 2011


I do agree with you there amethysts, and Etsy's own stupidity seems to be its competitor's best advertising.
posted by Horatius at 9:17 PM on March 15, 2011


Greg Nog: "In the interest of getting out in front of this: I swear that I only bought that men's kilt because I have really beautiful legs."

Pics or it didn't happen.
posted by deborah at 12:42 AM on March 16, 2011


golden steam punk anal beads

Doo dah, doo dah.
posted by Sallyfur at 11:38 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Etsy replied in an email to me after I informed them why I closed my account:

Hello,

Thank you for contacting Etsy's Support Team. You would be glad to know that our Engineers worked very hard and diligently in order to change the purchases from public to private yesterday. By the end of the day we created the change on the website and we are working with search engines to remove any past information regarding past purchases to be removed from results.

We thought adding your real name would add more credibility to each transaction. We feel that being who you really are is an important part of trust on the Web. However, we now understand that for a variety of reasons, people may not want to share their purchase or feedback information. Once we realized that problem, we worked diligently to fix it. From now on, all purchases and feedback are set to private.


Etsy takes privacy very seriously. When others view your feedback, they will not see your username, real name, or details about the item you purchased. Etsy recently published
more information about recent feedback and privacy discussions on their blog: http://www.etsy.com/storque/handmade-life/rethinking-feedback-12472/

You can find your favorites, feedback and findability settings here: https://www.etsy.com/your/account/privacy.



Please let us know if you have any other questions about Etsy.

Best,
Jessie
Etsy's Support Team
http://help.etsy.com
____
This message is a private conversation between you and Etsy. Please respect this confidentiality and refrain from distributing this communication without permission from Etsy. If you feel this message was sent to you in error, please delete it and let us know. Thank you.


My response:

Kudos to you. For some reason there has been a rash of companies deciding to impose their will on their customers instead of asking what their customers want - a very poor business strategy indeed. I will re-open my account but you still owe all your customers for such a breach of trust, because that Google cache doesn't go away and you did that to us.
posted by iurodivii at 6:51 PM on March 16, 2011


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