You Want Your Real Name Associated With Your Etsy Purchase History, Right?

Have you ever made a purchase on the crafty marketplace, Etsy? If you have, consider checking your privacy settings, since the site is beginning to have more in common with Facebook than an old-fashioned online bazaar. The company behind the site managed to annoy sellers, buyers, and more or less the entire Internet by changing its privacy policy earlier this year. Update: Etsy has its feedback policy, but not rolled back the other changes..

The changes allow users to search for their friends and marginal acquaintances’ Etsy usernames and feedback histories by e-mail address. Not all that different from most social networking sites… but most people who sign up to use Etsy do so to buy things, not to socialize and spy on what their friends are buying. Now, the full names of users who provided them to the site are available to the public and indexed by search engines by default. Users must opt out of these exciting new privacy-defying features.

“So people can see the feedback that I left on a bacon-scented candle I bought in 2007,” you might say. “Who cares?” Etsy vendors sell a wide variety of items that are perfectly great, but you wouldn’t want tied to your name on a Google search–think erotic art and handmade bongs. Users haven’t always had the option to make their histories private, and had no reason to believe that their feedback histories would be revealed to just about anyone by default.

Etsy staff have largely ignored the many users who complained in support forums, but CEO Rob Kalin showed up in the comments section of an Ars Technica article about the clusterfracas. He claimed that all users were sent an e-mail about the changes, and have the ability to opt out. Users argue that such a drastic change should be opt-in, not opt-out.

Etsy representatives defend the changes, ignoring the ghosts of Facebook Beacon and Blizzard’s attempt to require real names in game forums.

Etsy users irked after buyers, purchases exposed to the world [Ars Technica]
Etsy Makes All Of Its Users’ Activity Public [Business Insider] publishes real names and purchase history of buyers : Eyler-Werve [Jonathan Eyler-Werve]

Blizzard CEO Backpedals On Requiring Real Names In Forums
Facebook Founder Says People Don’t Even Want Privacy

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.