If you’re not ‘out’ about being kinky to your friends, you might want to consider taking a few steps to protect your privacy on FetLife. Here are a few points to ponder, and ways to keep things more private.
Let me preface this by saying that I encourage people to be ‘out’ if they can be. I think that hiding what we do can unintentionally make it look as though we’re ashamed. What I do is LEGAL (though it may not be in your area), CONSENSUAL, and sexy as faaaack. I choose not to go to great lengths to hide that I’m kinky. It has no effect on my life outside of the bedroom (or at least outside of my D/s relationship)…so I don’t feel a need to defend my actions to anyone. I believe that as people become more open about what they enjoy, we’ll receive more acceptance. I need only point to ’50 Shades of Horrible Writing’ as an example of how accepted this content CAN be, and how many people out there find it appealing. And now back to the post at hand…
The good news
FetLife isn’t searchable by Google.
Also, you see how it says https:// in your address bar? That means ‘Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure’ and basically means that the site constantly verifies that you’re logged into FetLife as you navigate and apparently the data is encrypted so others (perhaps on your network) can’t see what you’re up to. That means that in order to view profiles and pictures, you need to have created an account.
The bad news
Anyone can create an account. Your father, your ex, your boss, reporters, and even your children.
There are entire sites set up to posting content from sites like FetLife, not to mention blogs that troll the site and post ‘funny’ or ‘freakish’ content. Some of those sites seek to connect pictures with personal details. I’ve alerted quite a few FL users to this problem in the past, and some are shocked, while others just seem to accept it as something to expect if you post something online. You can send a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) take-down request, but those are really only effective in the US (where the Act is a legal bill). Nevertheless, even if you succeed in having it taken down, it is only a matter of time before it gets uploaded again, or elsewhere.
Some less than scrupulous people have also figured out how to get around the https:// and create sites that mirror FetLife. Those sites, if the person wishes, are Google searchable to a degree. The powers that be at BitLove Inc. (aka FetLife.com) work hard to get those sites taken down as soon as they find out about them, but its still something you should be aware of.
Despite users having to create a profile to view posts on FetLife…don’t be fooled. There really is no guarantee of privacy on FetLife, or anywhere else online (or with any connected technology, as the recent phone cell phone hacking case known as ‘The Fappening’ proved)
Which brings me to my next point…
Once you put it on the net, it will never be private again.
Think things through, because once it’s uploaded, you never know who might steal it and post it elsewhere (or just save it on their PC and fap to it while sitting on the crapper later).
Do you really want to take the risk your kids might find it one day while searching Google cybernetically while driving in their automated space car?!
Guard your face pic/tattoos/distinguishing marks
People could recognize you by the size of your schlong, but you can probably just get away with playing dumb on that one. More distinguishable features like your face, tattoos, and birthmarks in the shape of a rhinoceros are much harder to deny. On FetLife you have two privacy options. The first (FetLifers) lets anyone on FetLife see your content. The second (Friends Only) only allows your FL friends to see the picture in question.
Don’t know how to adjust picture (or writing) privacy?! Follow these steps!
Click on your profile picture to bring up the gallery view of all of your pictures. If you want to make any of them private you need to click on the individual picture. Once it brings up the pic in large format you need to scroll down the page a bit until you see ‘PIC411’ in the right hand column. There you’ll see some info about the pic, and have the option of deleting it. You don’t have to just delete it though! If you’d like to make it more private, just scroll down further and you’ll see ‘PRIVACY’ and it will either say ‘FetLifers’ or ‘Just Friends’. If you click on that, you’ll get a drop down. Just choose ‘Just Friends’!
Thinking of deleting your pictures?
You’re better off to just not upload them in the first place. Facebook, FetLife, and almost every other social media site use third party servers to handle their image content. When you click to delete the image, you aren’t actually deleting the image from the server…you’re only deleting the LINK to the image. That means that your image is still there, and people could theoretically still find it with a bit of code hacking.
Friend Requests can open you up
Think about how many random people you’ve added…are you okay with them seeing everything you’ve got set to Friends Only?! Think twice about accepting those requests!
Check photos for friends, and friend’s photos for you!!
Remember that you might not be the only one appearing in your pics!! Are the other people okay with being clearly seen? Do pictures of yourself appear on friends profiles? Maybe you need to request that they take them down, or change the privacy settings!
How traceable is your FL user name?
Some people use their legal name, others use their cats name, and still others use the name that appears in the email address they’ve used since they were 13. If you use the same user name for your Xbox Live, Ebay, or Myspace account…you can easily be found there!
Keep in mind that even if you change your profile’s user name now, your posts in the timeline will still show up the way your name was previous to the change on your profile page’s history. That was done so that its a little bit easier to figure out who the person you don’t recognize is in your feed, but it does leave a bit more of a trail.
Do you use those pictures elsewhere?
In a recent criminal case involving someone from FetLife, the person used some of the same pictures of themselves on Facebook as they did on FetLife. Now, this is actually a good thing in some respects, because this blunder can help us get asshats off the street. In this case, people saw the name on the news, Googled it, and found his Facebook account. From there, they noticed he had clicked to ‘Like’ the FetLife.com Facebook page, and searched his local area until they found his face (actually the same profile pic he was using on Facebook).
It’s a lot easier for someone to identify you if you’re using the exact same photo on Myspace (haven’t you heard of Facebook yet!?) or any other site, than it would be otherwise. Exact matches are pretty hard to deny. Unless you use the ‘evil twin’ explanation…
There’s an app for that…
In the digital age, “there’s an app for that!” Although FetLife has disabled the ability to easily save pictures by ‘right clicking’, there are still (quite a few) ways to save pictures that you find on FetLife. There are also sites and applications that allow you to submit a picture and search for that picture on the rest of the web. This handy tool can be used to see if someone is simply stealing pictures from other websites, but it can also be used to find other web content related to you. For instance, if you use a picture on FetLife AND your personal website, it’s fairly easy for these programs to sniff out a match. Then, it is often only a few clicks and um…types…to get a hold of personal information, for instance gleaned from the records of when you registered your domain.
What info do you give up in your profile?
Here on FetLife we like people that take the time to fill out their profiles. You might think that the best way to keep private is to just not fill out your profile. Well, that may be true, but you’ll also find people here generally won’t take the time to get to know you if you don’t put at least a little information down. You’ll probably want to make sure that you don’t put your real name in your profile, or reveal really specific details (like what college you go to, or what company you work for (or even what field you work in). Maybe you don’t want to put up that you’re a mother of six boys (keep trying…next one might be a girl!) and three cats (oh, you gave up and went on to cats), because that gives specific information. Maybe you should just cut it back to “I’m a mother” and reveal the twelve boys (shit…they’re duplicating) in convos, or once you get to know people face to face. Let’s face it, people don’t really need to know exactly how many kids you have (even if fertility is a fetish).
What info do you give up in your posts?
Remember that the posts you make show up on your profile under the activity section. So, if you just deleted the part about being a mother of 22 boys (they aren’t even duplicating at an even rate now…) from your profile, it doesn’t make sense to talk about it in the groups you participate in, on someone’s wall, or in your writings.
Where are you from?
FetLife makes us choose a city when we sign up. It was designed as a way to help us connect with kinksters in our local area…but it has a downside. It makes you much easier to pin down. Have you ever seen a profile that claimed to be from Antarctica and thought “Wow, their nipples must be hard ALL THE TIME!”?? Well, you might be amused to know that there are twice as many people on FetLife claiming to be from Antarctica than actually live in Antarctica. That’s because the majority of these people don’t want to make it easy for others to track them down, so they listed the first bogus place that came to mind.
If you decide to switch your location to Antarctica, its a dead giveaway if you join 5 of your local FetLife groups…just sayin’!
Think about real life interactions too!
Do you introduce yourself at a munch or party by your first name or your Fet name? Remember that your friends might inadvertently drop your real name in comments on FL, or accidentally spew your Fet name at the mall by mistake!
Further Privacy on FetLife
You can also keep a bit more under the radar by making sure none of your pictures or writings trend into Kinky & Popular. Do this by clicking on the drop down menu with your username beside the search box at the top of the screen. In my case, it looks a bit like this: MasterMatt84˅. Now click on ‘Update Settings’ and finally select the ‘Privacy’ tab. Below will be three options that you might want to consider turning on/off.
If you have tips you think should be added to this list, please post them below!