TOO LONG; DIDN'T READ? You might be here because you've been told by FetLife that the issues with their site is the fault of an evil evil who evils, "somebody known as maymay," basically marketing their own privacy failures as my fault. Which, bluntly, is pathetic. In reality, the FetLife PR people, as well as its users, might consider sending angry letters to their developers and policy makers asking "Why the fuck is this POSSIBLE?" Read on for more information.
But you might be here because you've been told by FetLife that the issues with their site is actually the fault of an evil evil who evils, "somebody known as maymay." It seems folks at FetLife would rather continue to mislead people like you, using whatever excuse they can come up with to misdirect attention away from their own patheticlly immature behavior, than actually start communicating honestly about the ever increasing count of their own failures over the years:
While some of you seem willing to give FetLife the benefit of the doubt, I'm just not anymore. Do you remember that welcome message you got from a "FetLife Greeter"? Remember how one of the things they said in that message was how awesomely encrpyted and private their site is because of all the encrypted encryption and, by the way, did you notice we said encryption? First of all, I don't think that word means what they want their users to think it means. But also, how do you think it came to be that they even have that in the first place? It wasn't because FetLife did it thanks to their own forethought and care about their user's safety, themselves. From the Electronic Frontier Foundation's blog:
Individual emails from users can be effective in prompting a website to improve their security practices, as shown by @MayMaym's successful campaign to get HTTPS support on Fetlife.com.
Here's some funny trivia for you: who was the first FetLife user to be thanked in FetLife's official and public changelog? Bonus question: why were they thanked? (When you're ready, the trivia answer is here.)
Moreover, I'm not the only person FetLife threatened for trying to give people control over their own stuff. And it's not like this is an uncommon complaint. Many people don't like FetLife, but feel trapped into using it for one reason or another:
Turns out, I’m getting more and more requests from folks who are beginning to realize that FetLife is exploiting them and not letting them leave easily. When a company, or a service, or a person, tells you that you need them to survive, and at the same time they hinder your attempts to leave, what you’ve got is an abusive relationship.
So, there's that.
If you were one of the people who used the FetLife Exporter hosted on this site and were sent a vaguley threatening email from Susan Wright telling you to delete your content, you should also be certain to read the update posted on the Exporter tool by following this link.
And I think that's everything. I hope you have a great day. :)
P.S. I don't have any FetLife users' passwords; none of the tools I wrote saves or logs any of them, by design. (Read the code if you need to be double-dom sure.) HOWEVER, I did get an email from a FetLife user who Susan Wright contacted who told me that Susan Wright had changed her account's password without her consent. (Here's a PDF of the timeline of events as the user shared them with me [and in plain text].) So in other words, when the FetLife staff tells you "Don't ever give your FetLife password to anyone," what they're saying is, "because we'll just take it anyway." I sent them back this note:
If, as you claim, you have no problem with people exporting their own FetLife content, then the company you represent will illustrate that by taking one or both of the following actions:
- You will announce the release of a FetLife.com feature that offers FetLife users the ability to export their content. As you may recall from our previous correspondence [http://www.notjustbitchy.com/mini-post-maymays-fetlife-exporter-tool/#comment-470], there is open-source code available to you [https://github.com/meitar/fetlife-export/] that can give you a head start implementing this feature.
- Given the continued lack of such an offering, you will stop blocking the server hosted at fetlife.maybemaimed.com from making connections to FetLife.com so that users will be able to use what I currently understand to be the only hosted FetLife content export tool available to them.
The fact that you don't offer Fetlife users the ability to control their content without simultaneously jeopardizing the privacy of other users has long been a known problem. I've advocated for increased inter-user privacy controls on behalf of myself and other FetLife users for several years. [http://maybemaimed.com/2012/08/31/lets-get-practical-care-about-internet-privacy-because-it-keeps-your-loved-ones-physically-safer/] These types of best-practice privacy options are also among the earliest "Improvements" requested by FetLife.com users in response to FetLife's solicitation of feature requests. Please see the following if you need to refresh your memory:
- "Private groups" - https://fetlife.com/improvements/14
- "Make activity feed private from non-friend" - https://fetlife.com/improvements/21
- "Have private events" - https://fetlife.com/improvements/46
- "Make writings private" - https://fetlife.com/improvements/89
- "Privatize or restrict all/parts of my profile" - https://fetlife.com/improvements/91
- "Have global privacy / private 'objects'" - https://fetlife.com/improvements/95
Every single one of these have been "Suggested … about 1 year ago", yet FetLife has chosen to prioritize a host of other features, many of which further degrade a user's privacy. It is no surprise to me that many people therefore do not feel safe using FetLife and have wished to migrate, with their content, away from it.
If you do not like the way the only currently available FetLife account backup tool works, you are entirely capable of making your own.
Meanwhile, if you do not like what some users have chosen to do with their ability to export content, speak with THEM about it, not me. Here is a form letter you're welcome to distribute to FetLife Caretakers that they are all very welcome to use:
If you are indeed the owner of the FetLife account using the nickname you're referencing, then you are able to remove this content from the server at fetlife.maybemaimed.com at any time, and you always were. The video at the export page explains how to do this.
As a general rule, I am not in the habit of doing things for other people that they can do themselves. Moreover, I am not in the habit of deleting files simply because someone claims to be their creator in some random piece of email. ;)
But, so, here's a thing.
Last night, FetLife blocked the IP address of the fetlife.maybemaimed.com server, functionally blocking anyone from managing their own archive, including taking away your ability to delete your archive yourself. Maymay coded a work around to FetLife's block and updated the Exporter so that you can still manage your own archive files, including delete them.
Please read the full update here:
(Archived at http://freze.it/1ta for future posterity.)
It bothers me a lot that FetLife would tell people to do something that they then prevented those people from doing. What gives?
I hope this helps, and I hope you'll hold FetLife's feet to the fire on this.
If you run into an error, please do let me know.
P.S. Please give Susan Wright and the rest of the FetLife team my kindest regards. Here are some links I'd love for you to send their way:
P.P.S. Sorry about the form letter. As you can imagine, I'm dealing with a lot of email all of a sudden…. ;)
I hope you'll choose to do the right thing and prioritize your users' autonomy, safety, and privacy over your company's profit motive.
BDSM Community Muckraker
P.P.S. Dear John Baku and Susan Wright, I'm still waiting for a response to the invoice I sent you for implementing the single most-requested FetLife feature: FetLife Age/Sex/Location Search, among other things. It'd be nice if the next response from you isn't another frivolous DMCA takedown notice. Thanks!