Friday, January 28, 2011

Etsy, Privacy and You

First it was Activity Feed and Circles, now it’s the spanking new Etsy Email Importer due to launch in 2 weeks that encourages sellers to upload their email address books to Etsy to "let users find people more easily" because:'s hard to find people you know on Etsy, and we're going to change that. We're going to make it easy to connect your email address book to Etsy, so we can automatically find people you know who are also members.

In anticipation of this change sean11 announced, in the same breath, that Etsy CHANGED ITS PRIVACY POLICY to grease the wheels for this new “tool”:

Sellers’ reactions are running hot and heavy in this thread:

On top of it all, Etsy has made the tool OPT OUT instead of OPT IN!

Read it all because it gets curiouser and curiouser!

Once a seller loads their email address book into their Etsy profile Etsy will:

New Privacy Policy: When you add contacts to your Etsy circle, they will automatically receive an email notification. When you invite contacts to join Etsy, you may preview the email invitation before Etsy generates and sends it.

The questions and alarms are flying in forum comments, but this is clearly a very elaborate extension of Real Names, Activity Feed and Circles in the name of switching Etsy to a “social site” rather than a shopping, selling and buying site.

And while clever changes in Etsy’s Privacy Policy may give Etsy all the justification they seem to think they need to reduce the level of their members’ actual privacy, the real question is:


.. and Goodbye Alchemy!!!

And this is only the beginning of a whole list of important questions that sellers have been asking for the past week ---- what the hell is going on at Etsy?


KiwiMan said...

they'll probably sell the info.

active email addresses go for a *hell* of a lot more.

Eveline said...

This is going to be the death of Etsy. Anyone who has seen how they treat sellers, especially after the disaster of showing real names in Treasuries that was said would never happen but did anyway, will stay away from this.

This should be an OPT IN, not an OPT OUT.

Jewelry on the Rocks said...

Typical Etsy, get the members to spam for you for free. I like ArtFire's approach much, much better, a month free "rent" for people signing up through a seller link(on their website, FaceBook, whatever) and a free month for the seller they sign up through. Now, IMO, that's the kind of promotion that works well.

Virginia said...

Now I am not only glad that I left Etsy, I am wishing that I had never gotten involved in the first place. They are like an ex spouse who gets more and more psychotic every passing year. You've got to be Constantly looking over your shoulder.

Lolcattus said...

I can't keep up with all the crazy changes over there any more. I have been following the thread closely and the damn cupcakes over there are really started to piss me off. "Oh no, this isn't about spam, Oh, you will feel different if you get 3k sales form it, You are all hysterical and over reacting" . . . makes me want to throat punch some one, seriously. I'm not over reacting when a place I thought was a place to buy and sell things has decided, AFTER they got my e mail to set up ways to spam all my friends, family, and let them see everything I have ever bought and commented on. I thought circles was a stupid idea, this just leaves me slack jawed in horror.

The Funny One said...

If this hasn't made you wary of Etsy's 2011 plan, then I don't know what will --- even if you never load your address book, do you want to hang around and watch what happens?

While massive seller actions are hard to plan and clearly not an option for Etsy sellers who do sell and need to push V-Day gifts, one option may be to put your store on Vacation starting Feb. 14th.

Set up at another site, even if it's short-term, and take the time to decide if going back to Etsy is worth it.

You may find that getting OFF Etsy is such a relief that you'll never go back.

And please, take all your customers with you to your new location(s)!

Since Etsy has gotten so invasive, I assume they can see all the stores on vacation --- so why not show them?

Anonymous said...

Rob Kalin quote

" I believe Etsy can be just as large as Facebook..."

Newflash Rokali, not in your lifetime. I wish there were 12 step programs for folks who are affected by greed-lust worship, for the abusers and the abused.

I am in awe of how addictive/obsessive greed lust is. Etsy Corp is on a runaway train of greed lust. Just like most of Corporate USA/and Associates are. Etsy Corp. keep on boldly fattening your coffers as hard and fast as you can while you can. Greed rules right now.

Crocheted Little Things said...

They will sell the info I guarantee it!

Barbra said...

I'm speechless.......

Wolf said...

I have a Facebook page that I deliberately keep much of my personal info off of- no location, no real name, no birthdate, etc.

WHY would I want another???

283 pages of mostly people saying NO to this. Etsy won't listen, it's already a done deal.

Cashew said...

My shop is already in vacation mode, and it's going to stay that way for the time being.

for the hell of it said...

Has anyone gotten in touch with the women's groups that got CNN to out Etsy over the cards? I can't see them being overly happy about this.

Anonymous said...

What the F&^^^K is wrong with these people???? Is there anything else they can do to F***&&K it up???

NoFishThanx said...

You are so right about Kalin wanting to get as close to Zimmerman as possible.
He's a disgusting little wannabe, and I betch 10:1 FB will string him along to get whatever they can from Kalin, and through him, from us.
My privacy is not for sale. I will be checking every single day muliple times in order to put the brakes on that crappy idea. I also privately favorite, if at all, and the hell with circles.

I am not their trained seal.

Eveline said...

I can already imagine the outrage when, ooopssss, the email addresses become visible to everyone. But hey, Etsy is only human so you can't blame them, right?

Messing with your privacy policy is a big no-no for a company as big as Etsy.

And let me guess, not all Etsy customers were informed?

Eveline said...

In that thread, sean11 said:

Honestly, there is nothing sinister going on here. I plan to use it to get my mom to join Etsy, so I can show her around the site and follow her favorites in my activity feed.


So I replied:

I'm sorry, but that just makes me laugh.
You WORK for Etsy. I can only assume that your mum knows you work for Etsy, and that the subject has come up in conversation. If your mum is online, I'm sure she has checked out the site before.

If you needed convincing your mum to come join the website you work for, why does that need to be through said website? Can't you just give her a bell, or send her an email?

You can't say with a straight face that you will be using this to get your mum to use Etsy. Your relationship cannot be that bad that you need this feature in order to do that. So really, what does that say about Etsy's reputation within your family?

Anonymous said...

I think etsy is evil. The kind of evil that steals from their mother, sleeps with their brother, makes burritos out of handmade artisans and tortures small animals...all the while, connecting with friends on etsy!

WTF will they do with any extra emails the dredge from all the suckers who go for this. Your email contacts will think you sent it. Etsy has a staff of creeps and now spamers!

Anne Onymous said...

I'm a Mum, and I don't want my (grown) kids following my activity feed. Suppose I want to buy one of them a present. What if I want to acquire a frilly black garter belt? Ain't nobody's business but my own.

Reviewing (nostalgically) the clusterfucks of the year just ended, I'd have to say that if they can't do taxes and they can't do privacy, e-mail lists could be positively lethal.

The truly sad part of this is remembering back to that day when the economy fell into the toilet and Etsy had their record-breaking sales day on the same day. If they had just kept building on that model, they might have built something of just as much value to society as Facebook is--just in a different sphere of operations.

sark said...

Well, I'll be opting out.
I spam etsians w/ treasury inclusion notifications and that's it.

I've been letting one of my shops expire. While it's work that I like, fuck it, I don't do owls, cowls, bicycles, wire-wrapped jewelry, shitty illustrations drawn like a four year old with the palsy, vintage clothes modeled by waifs, blurry photography, gray, beige, white, or whatever else the flavor of the next six months is — so it doesn't fucking matter.

I suppose it'll be sad to see it go, but well, that's life when you deal with idiots who don't understand that business is about the bottom line, not who kisses your ass. BTW, what's everyone going to do with all this wire-wrapped jewelry when the 2 people who keep going out of their way to feature it are going to get bored with it in 2 months? Bird's nests, anyone?

Just fucking opt out, and don't waste a lot of time thinking about it.

I suppose I should get off my lazy ass and go format some more listings for Artfire.

And BTW, me emailing my Mom, Dad, sisters, aunt, other relatives — or my bosses at work is supposed to result in sales — then someone is out of their fucking mind. My Mother is never going to "buy" anything for me. She's my fucking Mom, she gets this shit for free.

This is just another useless doo-hickey.

F.W. said...

I'm personally opposed to anything that promotes spam in any way, shape, or form. It's already bad enough that we're left to these stupid social networking sites to advertise on, along with 40 million other crafters (Facebook isn't too bad- at least it has some settings you can use to prevent spam). Now we have even more ways to get yet more emails from 1,000 people selling the same assembled steampunk or boho jewelry and punch made stationary ("but my stuff is unique!!!" whine the cupcakes) that already overwhelms the Etsy listings. Anything decent and handmade gets buried within seconds by the 50th billion pair of earrings that took no more labor than twisting a jump ring shut.
Those of us who sell handmade items are already at our wits end trying to dodge the spam along with the cupcake pricing schemes that you see, such as selling a beautiful hand crocheted set of cotton lace baby booties with a size 000 hook for 15 bucks. And then they get defensive at the notion of decently priced, respectable handmade goods in the forums. As the Monday Night Football pre-show says, "C'mon, man!"

finnashe said...

This was the nail in the coffin! I closed up shop, and now I am concentrating on my Artfire shop! Where they actually promote sellers and are not a social site, but a true sellers site!

Weaverbird said...

This is the last straw.

I put my shop on vacation back in October, but kept my Etsy account in the (faint and fading) hope that a miracle would occur. But no; they are fixed on this ruinous course, so the logical next step is to close my account. Alas.

Sad to see a great idea destroyed like this.

WindysDesigns said...

It never fails, every time I can see some minute logic to something they do, they make a fool out of me by doing something like this, that totally blows my mind.

My address book contains:
1) people I already know on Etsy because:
* I made friends with them
* I've bought from them
* They've bought from me
2) my friends and relatives that already know I sell on Etsy
3) People who I used to talk to years ago and who may or may not remember me that I never cleared out of my address book.
4) other websites I've purchased from, mailing lists that I want to hear from, groups I belong to.

I can see no earthly reason why I would give anyone access to that, or why I would want them spammed by Etsy. The only purpose I can see is for Etsy to harvest all the emails to sell. Won't they be surprised when I upload an address book full of viagra, bankruptcy, lotto winnings, sexy singles, horny housewives and every nigerian scam I have ever blocked. Thousands....

They are free to send them all the spam they want, and I hope they hear back from them, again and again and again and again.........

Anonymous said...

"We believe most people do not people do not object to their Etsy username being found by people they know. "

Haha what?!

Anonymous said...

evermoresoap says:
Stop doing this crap, Etsy. Spend your time on things that sellers need, like a proper shipping calculator. Why so much concern about people who aren't even on Etsy yet? Yes, Etsy can be overwhelming to a n00b, blah blah blah. Please focus on the people who are already here!

But that's not in the business model. Sorry, I forgot.
Posted at 10:40 pm, January 29, 2011 ET - Report this post"

I'm SO getting muted.

Sushimom said...

On top of everything else, they actually sent out an email about the 'updates,' but only one of my two accounts actually received it. Is it normal to have so much difficulty getting information out to customers? Nope... just Etsy!

The Funny One said...

Interesting how it always takes a day or 2 for Etsy's bullying tactics to sink in (which is why Admins do it on Fri afternoon and go into hiding 'til Mon) but you have to hand it to them this time.

Poorly worded statements by employees who should not be let loose to explain their first mistake with more mistakes only reinforce that Etsy lives in a bubble of its own making.

Bubble indeed! And the emails to "members" will only dig the hole deeper because the damage has only just begun.

Admist a wider push for browser co's and legislators to protect online privacy, Etsy goes the other way.

Proof once again that Etsy is untouched by the needs of the people who make them so much money, and now all the shoppers and buyers as well!

SuckerPunched said...

I use FB to keep in touch with old friends and scattered relatives. I have a fan page, too.
I stripped the fan page of anything refering to etsy, but the privacy settings are such that they are linked to both pages.
NOw, I will have to dump my fan page completely and start over, this time with a totally bogus email address. How can youj get around these information pirates???

Sonja said...

thank you for the shoply link on here! i never had a shop filled with just one single click!!! sure this is OFF-topic, but hey... that had been the best link i have seen in a long time :)

Tula said...

They've got their noses glued so tightly to the Facebook play-book, but they've learned nothing from the privacy issues that Facebook has been dealing with recently. People want privacy, but they can't seen to see far enough over their cowls to see that.

I also wonder if this is a way for them to get their hooks in sellers' customers from other venues. I'm sure a lot of sellers who sell on multiple venues use the same email address for all of them. It's really a sneaky back-door way to market to your customers from other sites.

People also have more than just friends in their address books, too. Can you imagine Etsy sending email to your business colleagues or your boss from the day job you still have because you don't have enough visibility on Etsy to sell anything in the first place? Could be embarrassing for those who sell adult-oriented items.

Reznit said...

Facebook has huge privacy concerns regarding how the share your info with anyone and everyone and are always changing things. People don't even mention half the time how Facebook is selling your info to marketers, too.

Now we have that to worry about with Etsy. Oh great, glad this is getting so social.

Given Etsy's track record, if you put Facebook type privacy powers in their hands, they'll fuck it up, screw all their customers and throw them on the sidewalk. Meanwhile they'll be writing blog posts about how they're 'Awesome'.

This is not a good trend. Someone smells some money... the new investors, anyone?

It's like every year, 1/6 of Etsy gets sold to someone shadier than the ones before.

Picklevalentinevintagebeads said...

This might be kind of technical and boring, but here goes.

Etsy is running behind the scenes scripts to connect you to FB. You can clean up all your connections on FB and on Etsy, get rid of your platforms, don't let your friends put out your info or let other apps contact your page, but if you press the wrong button on Etsy, such as gifts, it will connect you back to FaceBook and offer you a very tempting application with can connect you with a lot of sites you may be very interested it.

It looked tempting to me and I've been burned already. Most people take the bait. Don't do it. With every so called convenience, we give up a lot of privacy.

The way around a lot of this, and not just with Etsy, is to use FireFox browser and NoScript. The scripts Etsy was running behind the scenes were Cloudfront and Kissmetrics. I disabled both of them with NoScript. When I pressed the Gift button again, nothing connected to FB.

I also want to say it might not matter that you have left Etsy. There are some strange things going on. For instance, I have not sold anything on my shop at Picklevalentine at Etsy since August. Yet the shop at Etsy had higher Google page rank than my shop at ArtFire, which has a 2/10 page rank.

Since I turned off the hidden scripts and also changed my email to a sub email that can be used for spam, my page rank dropped to nothing.

There are still many sold out, and very old items, that Etsy gives priority in Google search. Google likes longevity. Longevity gives Etsy status.

I am not a computer genius. If I can find crap like this, anyone can. God knows what else is out there.

Oh, and I am happy to say that AF is clean as a whistle. They are using Quantserve and GA, both benign programs as far as personal privacy.

Hope this helps. Libby

rose said...

Hey, everyone,

Try Artfire. There really is some sanity on that site.

I'm pretty much hating Etsy these days & don't understand why other sellers aren't. Trying to get into my address book is just another reason to hate them.

TieDyeDeb said...

OK, I've done it, I opened up a Zibbet shop. I still have a lot of old biz cards out there with my Etsy URL on them, but I also have to order new ones anyway, so looks like if I'm going to maintain a token presence while I get up and running, now's the time, although I didn't want my hand forced - I wanted to make the call when I was ready. Guess what - I'm ready now! I don't want my customers getting spam from Etsy, or my family (who know to contact me directly) or my friends (ditto). Dammit dammit dammit. >:-(

DancingWindDesigns said...

I've been hearing that people who had their shops closed by etsy are still in this mining tunnel they created. We can't access our shops, but etsy can and apparently they are. this is another "sooooo not right" etsy screw up. I don't want that info out there. When etsy kills a shop, they should delete that info.
I also found out, that they have muted my buyer account. Only took them 2 weeks after I (purposely) called myself out in the forums.

aprilmariemai said...

i had etsy close all my accounts but my main one, but in their extreme incompetence (or was it on purpose?) they closed my main account as well. i sent them a message back telling them their mistake, but they haven't remedied it so far.

i hate having my information treated that way...opt out is rediculous. i would never think of treating people that way on any of my sites. they're too busy thinking about making some more money off of us in a new way to care a bit about how it will hurt us.

Disgruntled Etsian said...

I sell on Etsy. I got the email about the address book thing, and went to my privacy settings to opt out, but the option isn't there. I guess they won't add it until the feature is actually up and running.

Unfortunately, they don't give an actual date that it starts, just "mid-February" so I might end up accidentally opted IN for a while unless I compulsively check the privacy settings several times a day, waiting for the opt-out to appear.

Oh, and here's a funny thing: another seller added me to her circle recently, and although I don't give a shit about circles I added her back as a gesture of friendship. Now my activity feed is constantly bombarded with everything she's been adding to her favourites, and I don't like it, so I want to REMOVE her from my circle. And I there doesn't seem to be a way to do it.

I think I'm gonna have to bail...I thank god every day that I didn't put my Etsy address on my business cards. I put the URL to my own website, and from there I have links to whatever stores/blogs/etc. I may have. I highly recommend this approach.

DancingWindDesigns said...

I just got done filing a complaint with the FTC. If you are as pissed as I am about this, go for it. It takes a few minutes, but if enough people do it, it might make etsy realize that people refuse to be screwed over by them anymore. You can also help spread the word about filing with the FTC. Just be sure to keep the refernece number you get after you submit your complaint.

Seinfeld said...

They have now officially stopped the ability to turn off circles.

One PO'd Etsian said...

So I hear of this now only through the Etsy Bitch which I just so happen to check sooner or later, and guess what, the Etsy notifications were all in my spam folder for my several shops. Son of am Etsy biaatch WTF are they doing?

Oh, I know, wait, they are spending time selling our emails instead of making the site better for their sellers. Can you say GOOGLE PRODUCT SEARCH and WHAT GIVES WITH THAT when ARTFIRE has total SYNDICATION ETsy Bitch you need to do a story on that

Do sellers realize after a certain join date there is no option on their accounts to even sign up for google product search so many people join hoping to sell their wares can't be found vintage jewelry 2.5 million vintage items 1.2 million handmade bazillions wtf how you supposed to make a freakin' living on this thing much less your .20 cents back

What about their front page now with craftcult tools you can see the same old sellers ETSY LIKES are on the front page 100 times over and over again.

Are they getting rid of forums to unleash some top secret thing called parachutes they were working on some time ago who knows. We shall see.

I do think they need to listen to the communtiy. They are losing respect.

The Funny One said...

It's more than a shame that sellers don't have real numbers to do comparisons of what these dramatic changes have done & will do to actual sales and harder still to do in Jan., a low sales month.

That's where the real proof can be found - Etsy has carefully cultivated, groomed and prepared a finite number of sellers to make (or order by the containerfull) what they like to promote. It's a short list.

Howevever, their PROFITS are based on listing fees that are now being charged for a site that is no longer a selling site. And sellers are paying them.

You can jump in on any thread you want to complain, but as long as you
(1) keep paying listing fees
(2) keep buying on the site
(3) keep advertising Etsy for free without anything in return
(4) promote Etsy to others even though you know the decks are stacked
Etsy will continue on its current path of fleecing 99% of all sellers who do not sell in order to continue to promote their selected sellers and products.

Only now they'll do it in the name of "circles" and "contacts" ---- all aimed at PROMOTING ONLY THOSE FEW SELLERS WHO ARE ALREADY WITHIN THEIR FAVORED CIRCLE using listing fees from ALL SELLERS.

While it's hard to legally challenge that the original "contract" with sellers has been erased without notice, remember that Etsy is STILL taking in tons of hourly profits based on FALSE PROMISES (in print in public).

When your loyal customers head for the hills because they don't want a social shopping experience, and are justifiably concerned about their online privacy------and you keep listing and paying your Etsy bills ----- who can you blame then?

It LIVE! Look Out! said...

The opt out/opt in is LIVE.

As of this morning I've heard through yahoo teams and other off etsy places that several etsy sellers are saying that their emails have been hacked and they are receiving copious amounts of spam. Coincidence. Hardly.

Run. Run. Now. Go opt out. You can turn it off under your privacy settings.

Unfreaking real.

wanting to keep trying said...

One PO'd Etsian said...

Are they getting rid of forums to unleash some top secret thing called parachutes they were working on some time ago who knows. We shall see.


Parachutes was Rob Kalin's attempt to cash in on a hot trend that year, educational startups, while also addressing his inner angst about not liking school. It seems to have failed, probably because he's incompetent. And Dopple? Hmm...

That's typical really as he seems to just jump on whatever is hot. Etsy (the 2005-2009 Etsy) was a mashup between eBay and Flickr, which were hot when it started in 2005.

The new Etsy is a mashup between 2008 Etsy and Facebook, because Kalin has no actual vision or creativity. And the new investors are pretty lame, obviously. It's all adding up to one more attempt to pump up Etsy and sell it this year. They keep trying...

The Funny One said...

Please check all the Your Etsy pages for the "security settings" which are changing every 24 hours; you need to really look at each page and section and scroll down each page to see what Etsy has opted you into when you did not give them permission to do so.

Etsy pulled an FB and makes it very hard for you to control your information on the site ---- it may very well drive your customers to decide not to buy from you, especially if they are already irritated by the "forced suggestions" and other dramatic format changes.

I would be very worried about what Etsy is doing with your store and to your customers, whether you know it or not.

Opt Me Out said...

Here's a new article for buyers that gives a good overview of the privacy issue. Hopefully it will help get the word out to those who may be unaware of what's coming:

for the hell of it said...

I wasn't sure where it would have been best to post the following:

This has been occuring to people trying to access the forums. between Etsy trying to milk our profiles with TEAMS TEAMS TEAMS and the email BS, I wanted to give a heads up about a potential nasty problem.

They may have gone TOO FAR!

Deeply said... has recently made all users’ real names and purchase history available on the web. They can be searched from google (I checked). They are also refusing to contact buyers to alert them to this change. They do allow names to be changed, but only with a two day waiting period. There is a thread on their forum about it here where they have refused to respond to serious concerns for customer privacy. Since Etsy is refusing to notify its’ members, please help me get the word out to them. Thank you.

Post Script:
Users are asked for their first and last name at registration, and told that they can include it on their profile if they choose. As of March 1st, however, all register members real names have been publicly posted on the site, connected to their buying history. Etsy has not notified shoppers that this has been done yet. If you know an Etsy shopper, please contact them and tell them about this exposure.