Monday, August 8, 2011

Etsy - evil to the core.

This new scandal of Etsy being Class-Action sued along with like 12 other sites for using Kissmetrics, a invasive, privacy busting tracking cookie that is so insidious it cannot be deleted, detected, and often will "come  back to life" and replicate it self later if it should go dormant or removed in some way. They are called "Zombie Cookies" and you should look that up online. There were recent Facebook and NetFlix suits recently over this very same issue, each resulted in a over 10Mil awards.

With the scale and scope of this lawsuit with not only Kissmetrics being sued but 12 or so of its clients, of which Etsy and the Etsy favorite are some, and so many customers involved, this lawsuit could go into the triple digit millions.

We here at EB have known about this problem awhile, approached several months ago by some legal eagles about these "Zombie Cookies". We knew this case was coming despite it looking like Etsy has stopping using the service, the cookies might still be active on your computer. We've been waiting to announce it.

You can find other articles about what the cookies do, the Etsy forums are swimming in them, the blogs are humming, we instead decided to tell you how deep the rabbit hole really goes.

Etsy is selling you instead of you selling on Etsy.

The true insidiousness of this comes down to the tracking. In itself it's evil, but with the way we think it's been working at Etsy it's like this...  You go to Etsy and search for say "crystal earrings" look around then leave.

After leaving you might start to notice ads for crystal jewelry on websites you visit. You might find it offered to you on other buying sites as a suggestion. You preference at Etsy was entered into the system, and then the system goes to work to get your money anyway possible by trying to sell you the items you were looking for on Etsy.

These cookies aren't just tracking you on Etsy, they follow you everywhere, they watch the other sites you visit and what you search for. Etsy just kinda  tags on with more info of your prefs and likes, info that will be used later in selling advertising to court your money later.

I actually have seen this in action myself. I went to a site recently that specializes in portable air conditioners, since my western exposure studio is rather small warm on sunny days. I went to this site ONCE. I had never heard of it before. Now when I go to sites liek CNN, Ebay, Amazon I am constantly being bombarded with  banner ads for this store that I had never heard of before but they are everywhere now. I literally can't go a day to a commercial or mainline site without encountering an ad for this same company now. Tag, I'm it.

This is why I don't think Etsy ever gave a damn about how you can't find what you want due to search sucking, in fact I will go so far as to suggest it might even be engineered that way. They want buyers to search around typing in more and more things and failing. Because after you get tired looking on etsy you will search for something else, and give that system a second lead on you, or you will go elsewhere to buy. They get money from the tracking services for sending in millions and millions of qualified leads hopefully to of it's advertisers that buys this info and markets you those ads that magically seem to know what you are looking for!

So essentially what is happening is Etsy is making money by sending customers away in frustration, possibly more money as a result that even actual sales would bring in if they stayed. We're talking at least a couple dollars bounty per head, and when you are the #53 or whatever site on the internet that's a lot of bounties. Plus Etsy is making money on all your listing and relisting, but without those listings they don't have content for people to fruitlessly search, plus they get to make money off sellers as well as the buyers without anyone buying a thing, especially since they love to push relisting! It's a fucking cash cow.

This pervasive advertising from zombie cookie tracking like 10x more evil than Amazon's "you might also like" feature (you look at ONE book for academic book for porn in history for a friend's Xmas and you are pinned for life there) because it wont just live on the site you looked for the items from... it will follow you everywhere. And it can't be killed. Or removed.

Just one bite and it's in your bloodstream and you are fucked. Maybe this lawsuit will be the armor piercing round to the temple.

Here is a useful post from trinlayk regarding some things to install into Firefox (yes people STOP USING IE GODDAMN IT) to not only find and kill these cookies but ways to keep looking for them and stopping them in their tracks. 

And remember folks, if you find any of these on your systems - MAKE A SCREENSHOT OF IT! Especially if you want to join in any lawsuit.


Anonymous said...

no words. maybe one. ouch

Rose said...

It is getting seriously horrible at

And this latest will take a serious chunk out of their bank accounts and grandiose schemes.

Anne Onymous said...

Well, this might get your undies in a bunch: I use a product called Ghostery to track all kinds of add-ons, both good and evil, and to block what I choose to block. For example, this Blogger page is using Google Analytics. Since I don't find that to be evil, I don't block it.

Ghostery has been loyally reporting on (and blocking) Kiss Metrics for months now on Etsy. After I read your post, I ankled on over there, and it doesn't look like they're using it any more. Hah.

Not to put in a plug, but Ghostery makes for a much less ulcer-prone browsing experience, and it's free.

Anne Onymous said...

Well, shite. If I'd followed the link in the original post, I'd have known they discontinued it. Still, Ghostery is a good thing.

kissthis said...

If it can't be removed then what can we do besides get a new computer?

The Funny One said...

Etsy said Sat. Aug 6th that they no longer used it, suspicious because of when & how the announcement was made. Trust them? No.

The bigger issue is Etsy's intent; every tweak and new "tool" added (and removed, then added back)since Jan. 1 has been intended to benefit Etsy, never the sellers.

We have no idea what Etsy is doing behind the scenes other than we know the intent is to make money for Etsy.

Giving Etsy your Real Name is the first step down their slippery slope - using the "social tools" on Etsy puts you at their mercy and what they do with it without telling users what they're doing with all these layers of rich, private info is intended to make money for Etsy.

just bitchy said...

Other good and free programs to use are AVG, Spybot and Malwarebytes.

You can download them at for free.

Poppys Wicked Garden said...

Seriously, if you haven't already it is time to jump ship! Come to Artfire;)

Jenny said...

OMG!!!! So etsy is not using it anymore?

And did they CLEAN it out of everyones computers when it was being used?

I SO hope they get sued to the max!

itneverends said...

Stupid question of the day - how do you know if you've been Kissed? I'm pretty sure I have. But how do you prove it? Kissmetrics doesn't show up as a program..?
Etsy has ALWAYS been just about Etsy. I hate them, but am stuck, as it is now a significant part of my family's income. SUCKS.

Cat Power said...

I just downloaded "Better Privacy" and you would not believe how many cookies I had to delete! Saved a few, although not sure if I needed to.

There some from Etsy from over a year ago! It's been that long since I've had any active shops there.

Didn't see any from Kissmetrics, but I guess they don't show up anyway because of their insidious programing.

Oh, and my PC is running a bit faster without all that garbage clogging up the files!

Mara said...

I've been trying to compile a bunch of information from the forums and other info in one place to help people.

I've been on Etsy since 2006 and I don't know why I stay. :p

Here's a link to my blog. It has a link to opt out of KSSmetrics and links to the browser add-ons mentioned in the forums and suggested to my by other people.

Good thing I'm working on revamping my website. :/

Suvivalist said...

Information mining is this century's black spot. Makes me want to wander into the Alaskan wilderness and live in a trailer.

Titch said...

I agree with this article, and I have to say: if you think your retort to this is so witty and clever, why aren't you posting it with your name?

Jill said...

I want to thank you for this blog, I've been a very frustrated etsy seller for years and I appreciate that somewhere someone is speaking honestly of the insanity that regularly occurs there.

I've tried other sites and the traffic is simply not there, the buyers are not there. It's beyond frustrating that the only option for selling handmade items is goddamn etsy.

ByNanasHands said...

Wow, I don't know what else to say. I have seen this happening (things I've looked for coming up on other websites) and couldn't figure out how that had happened. Wonder if ArtFire is doing the same thing...I feel like I've been kicked in the gut.....again...

The Funny One said...

Titch, you may not be familiar with Etsy's policy of retaliating against sellers and critics. Despite RW's announcement that he is switching out the old forum moderators for new ones, lisajune and DXO are currently very active which means if you have a question, a legitimate complaint, or are ticked off about the Relevancy mess and you make the mistake of posting in the forums, you can expect to be muted, booted and banned within the next 8 weeks.

Etsy Admins may not bonk you today, but they hold very long grudges.

Anonymous said...

forum thread on etsy closed by admin

Anonymous said...

How do I join in on this lawsuit, is what I want to know. $10,000 per claimant? Yes please!

RRobin said...

Read the book The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser.

Anonymous said...

Besides Artfire, which no longer offers free account, users may want to try out They seem to be making improvements there all the time and they don't play bullshit games!

Corrina Field said...

Wow I just downloaded 'better privacy' 724! LSOs! Oh my days! thank you for this link. Yes, my laptop is also running faster!Thank you! I can't believe I was thinking about going back to Etsy! I'm staying with Artfire, oh and Folksy!

Anonymous said...

I hate etsy now...I use to love them, but now I just hate them. They have ruined handmade!

Handmade Artists' Forum and Shop said...

Heard about this one.
Better keep my mouth shut.

Steven Conover said...

Well, this should not really come as a surprise to anyone!
Look for quality etsy sites like
etsy jewelry

Dawn said...

WELL... I actually spoke to an IT person in the US Navy as well as on one who works for a Law Firm. They both said the same exact words "leave this site alone!". They don't know each other. They don't work together. They both said the cookies they are using are "sketchy" and possibly very illegal.

That's all I know. I moved to Big Cartel!!!

Carlos molina said...

We ( I and my wife) are using Etsy sice 2009, we are facing some strange situation, apparently they screening our data, I think they are using our billing information to keep track of our activities. My wife had a store to seel doll's clothes, and after 2 years I opened an store to my son to seel bottlecap images, since this and after some Jason's emails ( I hate this guy lol ), all stores was closed suddenly without warning, etc.

From now on, if we open a store, they close in minutes, they aren't using only KISSmetrics, I am pretty sure they are using any data we provide them on the previous store, like the billing information.

I am trying artfire now, the problem with artfire seems to be the low traffic.