Saturday, February 26, 2011

Say NO to Findability

Crochet experiment
Remember this post I wrote about the findability "feature" on Etsy? Well, this misguided..thing.. has gone live for some Etsy members now. If it is live for you, you will see a button on the Activity page. This contact-importer only works for gmail, yahoo and aol accounts. But that doesn't mean that your email address won't get imported by someone even if you have another email provider.

As I said in the other post, RUN over to Etsy and change the setting for findability to NO.

Maybe some would argue that this contact importing isn't any different than what you can do on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. And I guess on the surface that is true.

However, those sites are social sites. They are not somewhere you can buy and sell things. And that is a big difference. Do you want anyone who has your email address to know what you buy? Do you want to know what other people buy?

I can answer no to both questions.

But that is not even the biggest issue with this. This is: I don't want a third party to poke around with my email contacts, no matter what reason and I can imagine this 'feature' being a gateway to spam the heck out of my friends - which is bad enough, But imagine that you are using a business email with your Etsy account and all of a sudden those contacts get inundated with all sorts of email that they have no interest in. (from the previous post)

I would strongly encourage you to use a separate email address on Etsy, whether you are seller there or a buyer. Don't let them anywhere near your personal contact list. I have started deleting all the contacts in the email account I use with Etsy. Just to be on the safe side.

Even if you have only used Etsy once or twice to buy a present for someone and you don't plan on going back, you are OPTED-IN to this "feature" by default. Seriously! This is an important privacy issue and everyone is opted-in if they don't do anything about it themselves! Imagine the implications of the Etsy system got hacked and someone got hold of all those email addresses! No thank you.

You can read the reactions over at the Etsy forum (what is left of it).. most of the comments are negative, but still they persist with this! And here is another article which chillingly (is that even a word?) suggests that perhaps one day it won't even be possible to opt-out. The circles "feature" on Etsy used to let you opt-out but that isn't so any longer... It is frightening to think that you wouldn't be able to opt-out and so wouldn't be able to protect your own privacy.

Opt-out now, it's at the bottom of this page. Yup. At the bottom where it is less obvious...

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