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Etsy.com reveals customers' real name and buying history

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  • metrometrometrometro Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Exactly. Social networks are valued by the markets by counting the user base and multiplying by a number between 1 and 100 depending on the strength of the revenue model and the hysteria in investors. Social networks are bubbling, ecommerce sites are not. Hence the switch to "social commerce" whatever that is.

    So they can have a community of let's say they have 1000 sellers. Or they can have 50,000 sellers+buyers. The difference in eventual market cap -- that's the money they take home after the IPO -- is 50x when the IPO rolls around. This is a classic pump-and-dump move with the "social network" member numbers in anticipation of the planned 2011 IPO.

    So, just to be clear on the moral issues here: Not an accident. THEY DID IT FOR THE MONEY.

    metrometro on
  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    metrometro wrote: »
    Exactly. Social networks are valued by the markets by counting the user base and multiplying by a number between 1 and 100 depending on the strength of the revenue model and the hysteria in investors. Social networks are bubbling, ecommerce sites are not. Hence the switch to "social commerce" whatever that is.

    So they can have a community of let's say they have 1000 sellers. Or they can have 50,000 sellers+buyers. The difference in eventual market cap -- that's the money they take home after the IPO -- is 50x when the IPO rolls around. This is a classic pump-and-dump move with the "social network" member numbers in anticipation of the planned 2011 IPO.

    So, just to be clear on the moral issues here: Not an accident. THEY DID IT FOR THE MONEY.

    and not only that, it's not even accurate, if I'm understanding you correctly? because I can say as a former seller on that site, a lot of people register, buy something once, and never log in again even to leave feedback like, "hey it got here thanks"... so those shoppers' purchasing history and information is available to anyone who wants it, AND Etsycorp is going to use that person's idle account as a number in their "we have this many users with more signing up every day!!"

    buyer beware on that IPO, man. This company is TOXIC. Their policies are bad and deliberately confusing, and they have a long history of making certain sellers spend a ton of money on advertising while giving free press to their favorites, which is why fake moustaches, bicycles, owls, oversized cowls, and fingerless gloves are so prevalent in their listings... ugh.

    tapeslinger on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    riz wrote: »
    Looks like the story just hit Ars Technica.

    "Critics of Etsy's new policy seem to have a thing for searching for artisan dildos"

    hahaha.

    XXL Glass Veiny dildo's with a gold leaf swirl mind you.

    Improvolone on
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  • RikushixRikushix Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    So Jai Vijayan - reporter and senior editor at Computerworld, specializing in data security and privacy - just emailed me back an hour or so ago, says he's interested and will be contacting us tonight or tomorrow morning.

    Rikushix on
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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    So, some Etsy employee is posting in the Ars comments that purchases aren't public, feedback is, and always has been.

    True? False? I don't know the site well enough. I'm pretty sure that even if it was previously public it wouldn't be linked to a real name and (potentially) an email address.

    japan on
  • metrometrometrometro Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    My response to Rob, the CEO:

    Rob Kalin wrote: It's not like there's a canonical list of all my purchases somewhere.- Rob


    Yes, there is. It's the seller feedback. Sellers always give feedback in the hopes that you reciprocate. When you make that list and include a link to the item description, that is the list of all your purchases. Here's yours:

    Vintage Industrial Cooper's Table
    Gull-Wing Bench with drawer
    Make My Wishes Come True - Clipboard
    Uncomplicated - a simple modern box clock
    Unfurled with Green Interior

    I can go on but your purchases are boring. Sex shops, less so. Gay bookstores? Hmm. Drug items? Getting more damaging...

    Simple fix: hide the items. Keep the feedback. Also, quite defending something indefensible. You exposed my purchases without knowledge or consent.

    metrometro on
  • RikushixRikushix Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    japan wrote: »
    So, some Etsy employee is posting in the Ars comments that purchases aren't public, feedback is, and always has been.

    True? False? I don't know the site well enough. I'm pretty sure that even if it was previously public it wouldn't be linked to a real name and (potentially) an email address.

    Your purchase history IS public unless you set it as "private". You can make your purchase history invisible.

    The primary complaint here is that Etsy made these features public by default and refused to message users about it. So there are plenty of people, who, yes, have the ability to make sure no one sees their purchase history, but may not know that it was visible to begin with.

    Rikushix on
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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I have friended the XL veiny dildo with gold swirl girl on Facebook. She doesn't allow non-friends to send her messages, so I figured... why not?
    This could get hysterical.


    edit: Or illegal, her only listed network is a high school

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • metrometrometrometro Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I have friended the XL veiny dildo with gold swirl girl on Facebook. She doesn't allow non-friends to send her messages, so I figured... why not?
    This could get hysterical.

    I'm not cool with this. She's done her service as a case study in why Etsy did a terrible thing. Please don't wreck her day by being super creepy.

    metrometro on
  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I have friended the XL veiny dildo with gold swirl girl on Facebook. She doesn't allow non-friends to send her messages, so I figured... why not?
    This could get incredibly creepy.

    :?

    No good can come from crossing that line. I request that you don't.

    ArbitraryDescriptor on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I'm only going to tell her that I was able to find her through that and that she should take the steps needed to undo the connection. I have no interest in communicating with her further than that.

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Rikushix wrote: »
    japan wrote: »
    So, some Etsy employee is posting in the Ars comments that purchases aren't public, feedback is, and always has been.

    True? False? I don't know the site well enough. I'm pretty sure that even if it was previously public it wouldn't be linked to a real name and (potentially) an email address.

    Your purchase history IS public unless you set it as "private". You can make your purchase history invisible.

    The primary complaint here is that Etsy made these features public by default and refused to message users about it. So there are plenty of people, who, yes, have the ability to make sure no one sees their purchase history, but may not know that it was visible to begin with.

    the other complaint is that they're enforcing a realID-esque usage of your name, and to get that changed/altered requires approval from an admin, if I am to understand correctly.

    tapeslinger on
  • KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Yeah don't friend people on facebook you don't know... who are in high school.

    KalTorak on
  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    this whole thing is sort of a circular demonstration of "exactly why this privacy stuff needs to be fixed like yesterday" if you think about it

    like
    Improv should not even be able to find this girl on facebook via her etsy buyer info, but yet, he has

    the *only* reason I think it is not a 100% TERRIBLE idea to contact this girl is to let her know she needs to update her privacy settings-- I know if someone else found MY info like that I would freak-- but I would be glad someone told me so I could do something about it!

    but yeah, this is p creepy.

    tapeslinger on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I tried to find bout 15 more artisan sex toy owners, but their real name wasn't showing or they had such a common name and no city listed that finding them would've taken more info than I had at hand. I am also doing this as a non-member. Are members shown more info?

    Improvolone on
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  • RikushixRikushix Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I would not do that. Unfortunately when we're discussing privacy there is a fine line that can't be crossed when giving examples like this. I think it's okay to point them out, but please do not contact people who have been found.

    Rikushix on
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  • RikushixRikushix Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I left a scathing comment on Ars. Good job Metro for getting the ball rolling!

    Rikushix on
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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    The only reason I started taking Internet privacy seriously was when I had a really upsetting clash of my Internet life and my real life. People only seem to learn/care about this when shit gets creepy.

    Improvolone on
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  • RikushixRikushix Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    These are the two comments I left on Ars:
    Firstly, big props to metro, a fellow PA forum user who sent his tip off to Ars before I could :P

    Secondly, and this is rather unfortunate: Rob still doesn't get it.

    I understand where he's coming from. Etsy wants to create a "social marketplace". This is all fine and good. I personally don't have any need for this (since we're talking about personal experiences and all), and I personally don't see the point of buyers needing to be "found" on the internet, but hey, whatever gets you that IPO, Rob!

    The thing that's not permeating the heads of Etsy staff is that you do NOT make features that concern users personal information opt-in by default. You just don't do that. No. Bad Rob. Bad! Look at Ars. I'm a long time reader but I've never been a commenter. I registered five minutes ago to comment here, and during the registration process I was asked if I wanted to OPT IN to emails from Ars and their online partners. Wow! If it's so important to people that they don't get spam, imagine what it might mean to people to OPT IN to features that disclose their personal information to anyone in the world! Good job Ars.

    Secondly, I'm glad that this "Etsy employee" responded with clarification, but honestly his (or her) response is a little bit insulting. Trying to insinuate that there's an actual difference between seeing someone's purchase history and seeing someone's feedback for purchased items is so mind-bogglingly stupid I'm not even sure where to begin. Guess I can't blame them for working there though - must be the corporate culture! And yes, feedback has always been public - just like it's always been public on Ebay. The difference is that at registration, Ebay clearly denotes which fields are required - that is, all of them - but more importantly, YOU CANNOT SEARCH EBAY BY PEOPLE'S REAL NAMES.

    Rob, if you're so desperate to become a successful social platform, I would stop comparing yourself to successful e-commerce websites that have never attempted to make such moves on social networks whatsoever.
    And one thing should be clarified (the article might need updating): Etsy DID notify users in late January that it would be changing its privacy policy in the future. But in their email they explicitly said that this was to accommodate the ability for other users to find them by email address. NOWHERE does it state that other users will be able to find them via their name, if they registered with it. If this is Etsy's attempt to sneak one under the radar ("Technically we told you the privacy policy would be changing!"), it's another sign that this ludicrous company is completely beyond the pale.

    This is the EXACT contents of the message I received on January 29th:
    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


    This is a service-related message from Etsy.com. Etsy's headquarters are located at 55 Washington Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY, USA, 11201

    Rikushix on
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  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I tried to find bout 15 more artisan sex toy owners, but their real name wasn't showing or they had such a common name and no city listed that finding them would've taken more info than I had at hand. I am also doing this as a non-member. Are members shown more info?

    I think it's mostly "public" or "private". I could be wrong though. I was a seller there for a long time but quit after some issues with the way they assess their billing and do things like retroactively change their billing cycles AND their billing policy and don't bother to even send out a memo...

    (this is a common and recurring issue with this company, is their shady lack of communication with customers.)

    tapeslinger on
  • metrometrometrometro Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Is it indexed by google? I know I'd be fucking furious if googling my name brought up a list of BDSM-related purchases.

    My Etsy profile, purchases included, is the #5 hit on my last name, despite a decade of online journalism clips. Google loves Etsy.

    metrometro on
  • TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Oh this is getting weird. The comment thread for the Ars article has become some kind of surrogate forum for disgruntled Etsy sellers to air their grievances since the CEO is actually responding there.

    Tofystedeth on
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  • Privacy Concerned ReaderPrivacy Concerned Reader Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Submitted this to Ars Technica on Friday - woke up this morning to http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2011/03/etsy-users-irked-after-buyers-purchases-exposed-to-the-world.ars?comments=1#comments-bar

    Even better, Etsy's CEO Rob Kalin got on there and tried to defend it, but still won't respond on Etsy.com, and anyone quoting his post on arstechnica is getting their threads closed.

    Stay classy, Rob.

    Privacy Concerned Reader on
  • Privacy Concerned ReaderPrivacy Concerned Reader Registered User
    edited March 2011
    riz wrote: »
    Looks like the story just hit Ars Technica.

    "Critics of Etsy's new policy seem to have a thing for searching for artisan dildos"

    hahaha.

    Who doesn't?

    Privacy Concerned Reader on
  • Privacy Concerned ReaderPrivacy Concerned Reader Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Here's a new one:
    http://www.pogowasright.org/?p=21594
    This is the reporter I mentioned way back.

    Also, http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/13/technology/sxsw_nyc/index.htm
    Now we know why Etsy admin were strangely silent all weekend - they were too busy wining and dining new investors. Hope they coughed up enough to make this PR shitstorm worth it.

    Privacy Concerned Reader on
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I'm enjoying the Ars editors ripping into the CEO in the comments.

    adytum on
  • RikushixRikushix Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    adytum wrote: »
    I'm enjoying the Ars editors ripping into the CEO in the comments.

    Rikushix on
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  • MyDcmbrMyDcmbr Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Well, I am glad I searched for this thread. I have closed my account on Etsy as this is pretty much BS.

    Thanks.

    MyDcmbr on
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  • Privacy Concerned ReaderPrivacy Concerned Reader Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Etsy made all buyer feedback private today, as a piss-poor band-aid solution. So I can still see everything about who dildo makers sell to, I can still search buyers by real name and email, but now I can't read what feedback buyers have left about sellers before I make a purchase.

    Thanks, Etsy. You are now completely worthless as a shopping site.
    http://www.etsy.com/teams/7718/site-help/discuss/6818592/page/1

    Privacy Concerned Reader on
  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    All of this stuff should be clearly explained and opt-in. I tried to file a complaint with these dudes http://www.priv.gc.ca/complaint/index_e.cfm but you can't do it electronically. Seriously it's 2011.

    Aridhol on
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Etsy made all buyer feedback private today, as a piss-poor band-aid solution. So I can still see everything about who dildo makers sell to, I can still search buyers by real name and email, but now I can't read what feedback buyers have left about sellers before I make a purchase.

    Thanks, Etsy. You are now completely worthless as a shopping site.
    http://www.etsy.com/teams/7718/site-help/discuss/6818592/page/1
    Hahaha

    Hey! Hey guys! I have a wacky idea: stop doing the shit people are actually complaining about.

    durandal4532 on
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  • Privacy Concerned ReaderPrivacy Concerned Reader Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Etsy made all buyer feedback private today, as a piss-poor band-aid solution. So I can still see everything about who dildo makers sell to, I can still search buyers by real name and email, but now I can't read what feedback buyers have left about sellers before I make a purchase.

    Thanks, Etsy. You are now completely worthless as a shopping site.
    http://www.etsy.com/teams/7718/site-help/discuss/6818592/page/1
    Hahaha

    Hey! Hey guys! I have a wacky idea: stop doing the shit people are actually complaining about.
    But, but, but, then how would they get in the news?
    Afterall, there's no such thing as bad publicity, right?
    </channeling Rob Kalin>

    Privacy Concerned Reader on
  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Etsy made all buyer feedback private today, as a piss-poor band-aid solution. So I can still see everything about who dildo makers sell to, I can still search buyers by real name and email, but now I can't read what feedback buyers have left about sellers before I make a purchase.

    Thanks, Etsy. You are now completely worthless as a shopping site.
    http://www.etsy.com/teams/7718/site-help/discuss/6818592/page/1
    Hahaha

    Hey! Hey guys! I have a wacky idea: stop doing the shit people are actually complaining about.

    Etsy sellers (ie, the only people Etsy makes money on, and they make plenty with their listings policies) have been complaining about a lot of things that are wrong with the site, and typically to no avail. This kind of nonsense has been going on for years; sellers pay listing fees and optional advertising fees and then are generally ignored by Etsy's staff and owners.

    You'd think at least 1 of those 125 employees Kalin likes to brag about in interviews could do something other than blog about polymer clay cupcake necklaces and figure out new utilities the sellers don't want or need, like Circles, and yet can't simplify their fucking ecommerce shopping cart down to something under a three-page ordeal. Don't ask how long it took to get coupon support.

    Basic things that an ecommerce site requires in order to be a thriving marketplace are completely absent on Etsy, and yet the ownership can take the time to come up with half baked plans for how to be the next Facebook, by trying to incorporate the kind of privacy breaches Facebook has gotten nailed for in the past. It's sort of mindboggling how anyone thinks this is ok.

    tapeslinger on
  • BobCescaBobCesca Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    So, in something I find a little funny, I'm tweeting and blogging anything that comes up about etsy. I don't have that many followers, but I'm hoping that some of them see this and get it out to their friends and so on and so forth.

    I think this is the kind of thing the etsy people were thinking their 'social network' that they have implemented so badly would do for sellers.

    BobCesca on
  • Privacy Concerned ReaderPrivacy Concerned Reader Registered User
    edited March 2011
    In reference to an Etsy moderator trying to defend Rob's comments
    http://unofficialetsyforums.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=venues&thread=3639&page=7#76425

    Privacy Concerned Reader on
  • Privacy Concerned ReaderPrivacy Concerned Reader Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Etsy sellers are vowing not to expose their clients through Etsy by not leaving feedback at all, to keep client base from eroding in the Etsy backlash - wish 'em luck.
    http://www.blog.simonewalsh.com/2011/03/15/if-youve-ever-bought-or-sold-anything-on-etsy/

    Privacy Concerned Reader on
  • RikushixRikushix Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    @Bobcesca, really appreciated the reblog on tumblr earlier.

    Rikushix on
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  • Privacy Concerned ReaderPrivacy Concerned Reader Registered User
    edited March 2011
    http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2058114,00.html?xid=newsletter-weekly
    An interesting article, not about Etsy specifically, but about the details data mining firms correlate about you. Etsy's snafu must be like Christmas morning for them.

    Privacy Concerned Reader on
  • Privacy Concerned ReaderPrivacy Concerned Reader Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Before I head off, I just want to give a tremendous thank you to all guys for blogging this, tweeting it, and generally getting the word out. Friday I, well, spammed a metric ton of Etsy/crafting blogs, online privacy blogs, online newspapers, meatspace newspapers, pro-privacy rights organizations, law enforcement agencies, the aclu, and the federal trade commission.

    Penny Arcade readers did more and did it faster than all the rest put together.

    Kudos.

    Privacy Concerned Reader on
  • KrysanthemumKrysanthemum Registered User
    edited March 2011
    I've been a seller on Etsy for about 18 months (not of dildos, sorry). I just wanted to pass on a little info about real names being entered into Etsy.

    Up until about a year ago, Etsy wasn't publishing anybody's real name. It could be entered into the registration form, but you didn't have to fill out the info if you didn't want. It never mattered because no one could see it.

    About a year ago, they introduced a "feature" whereby a user's real name would show up as part of their shop. Their reasoning was that it made the buying/selling experience more "personal", that they wanted to be all about connecting real people.

    What's more, they made it very clear that sellers who did publish their real name were therefore more trustworthy. We were basically told that we were bad sellers if we DIDN'T put in our real names.

    Then this bullshit starts in the last month or so, and all of a sudden everyone who has ever entered their name into an Etsy registration form has retroactively had their name published for all to see and find on the search. There was no email notifying people of the change, although previous privacy changes did result in an email. You can opt-out of having your name be public, but the default is opt-in.

    I'd like to say that this is Etsy's only problem, but they have been systematically re-designing and re-imaging the site to be some sort of social networking nightmare, and completely ignoring those of us who are actually trying to run an online business. They have crippled the forums to shut up the dissenters, routinely lock threads and mute those who are still bitching, and are absolutely determined that Etsy is going to be some great big hipster craft fair run by a fascist regime. Privacy be damned.

    So yes, while I agree that people need to be careful with how they disseminate their personal information on the internet, Etsy has done a bang-up job of being the worst possible example of how it can go horribly, horribly wrong.

    Krysanthemum on
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