Etsy Privacy Policy Shows Everyone Your Heinous, Uncouth, or Twee Purchases

The e-commerce website Etsy, which focuses on sickeningly cute arts, crafts, and vintage junk, also happens to sell sex toys, like ceramic polka-dotted dildos and crocheted vibrator cases, as we learned today! Others on the Internet may have learned a similar lesson via their online shopping friends since Etsy's new privacy policy makes all customers' purchases public -- they even show up on Google! -- unless users choose to opt out. It's just like Facebook's privacy snafus except instead of Mafia Wars, it's straw woven fedoras. Which are way more embarrassing!

Ars Technica reported yesterday:

The controversy began last week when Etsy flipped the switch on People Search as part of its effort to make Etsy feel more like a social network. Now, when users run a search for a person's full name, that user's account will show up in the search results, even if that person is only a buyer. The goal is to allow users to connect to each other and create "Circles," which then allow users to see which products their friends have favorited or purchased on Etsy.

The problem is that, aside from a thread in Etsy's forums (which is almost entirely used by sellers, not buyers), Etsy has not notified users of the change in privacy settings or policy.

So what, someone who only buys vintage photo prints might say.

"I just found a woman whose Etsy profile comes up on Google as the 5th link. I was expecting 6 or 7 pages down, but it's on the very first page, right after her online resumes," said one critic of the policy on a message board, spotted by the tech blog. "She signed up a year ago, under the old privacy policy, and hasn't logged in since 2010. And now I know what dildo she uses. Right down to the curvature and coloring."

And here you thought only your closest friends knew of your pink plushie bird obsession.

Settings can be changed by following "Your Account" to "Settings" to "Privacy." Maybe get on that.

UPDATE: Etsy has addressed the issue by making all purchases and feedback private by default. But you can make it public if you want feel like showing off your quirky side.

Etsy users irked after buyers, purchases exposed to the world [Ars Technica via Daily Intel]

[jcoscarelli@villagevoice.com / @joecoscarelli]

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