EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2467 - January 28, 2011     3 of 5

Etsy Imports Users' Email Address Books to Foster Social Selling

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Etsy told members on Thursday it would be making it easy to connect their email address book to Etsy, but the new feature - which is opt-out rather than opt-in - is meeting resistance, and is the latest controversy to erupt on the site.

Last month, Etsy launched new social-shopping features called Circles and Activity Feeds, allowing registered users to monitor the activity of other users that they "know and admire" through the activity feed. The new email feature announced on Thursday lets users find people in their email address book.

"If you don't want other folks to be able to find you on Etsy by your email address, you will be able to easily opt out through your account privacy settings. Your email address will never be publicly displayed. Only people who have emailed with you before would be able to find you on Etsy this way."

Etsy's Privacy Policy states:

"We utilize a contact-importer feature to help you identify people from your email address books who are current members of Etsy and invite any other contact to join Etsy. You may connect directly with your email service provider and import your contacts to Etsy. 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. Recipients of invitations may opt out of receiving future invitations via a convenient link located in the invitation email. If you do not want your contacts to be able to find your Etsy username through your email address, you may opt out through your account privacy settings.

An administrator wrote in the Etsy forum, "Circles and the activity feed are going to become increasingly central to the Etsy experience for new members."

As far back as June, founder Rob Kalin shared his decision to make Etsy a more social marketplace.

Etsy has recently come under fire from users, including complaints that the site allows mass merchandisers to sell goods advertised as "homemade."

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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