Etsy Takes Community Forum Private, Limits API Access To Protect Users From Scams

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


Comments

Etsy is making major changes to their community forums and public APIs as users have been inundated with spam and scams.

Currently, while posting in the community is restricted to those logged in with their Etsy accounts, the forums have been publicly viewable in read-only mode with no account or log in necessary.

Soon, only users signed in with their Etsy accounts will be able to read most of the community posts, with only the Announcements and Technical Issues sections remaining open to public viewing.

We’re making a few updates to protect users’ privacy
Hello and happy new year! My name is Andrea, and I lead Etsy’s community team. My team creates and develops the one-of-a-kind programs and spaces where you connect with and learn from other Etsy sellers. We know how important user privacy is to all the members of our community, which is why I wante…

Hello and happy new year!

My name is Andrea, and I lead Etsy’s community team. My team creates and develops the one-of-a-kind programs and spaces where you connect with and learn from other Etsy sellers. We know how important user privacy is to all the members of our community, which is why I wanted to share two updates we're making to keep buyers and sellers safe and secure.

Soon, you’ll need to be signed in to view most posts in the Etsy Forums

Today, anyone browsing the web can view posts in the Etsy Forums. We want to keep this space special and secure because we know just how valuable connecting with your community can be. We also want to create an experience that’s tailor-made for Etsy sellers, so you feel comfortable sharing with each other and seeking out support in a protected space.

That’s why we’re going to start asking you to log in to your Etsy shop account to view posts in most sections of the Forums. We know you need quick access to important info, so posts in the Announcements and Technical Issues sections will still be visible to everyone.

We wanted to give you a heads up that this change is coming, but don’t worry— we'll remind you before we make any updates.

If you haven’t logged in to the Community space before, it’s super simple. Just click Sign In at the top of this page and log in with your Etsy shop details. Get step-by-step instructions in Etsy’s Help Center.

We’re limiting the buyer info some integrations can access using our public API

Many companies use the Etsy API to build tools and services for Etsy sellers (we call these integrations). To help protect shoppers’ privacy, we’re putting some additional limits on the buyer info we share with these third-parties. We’ve reviewed this info carefully to ensure we limit the impact on the tools you depend on to run your business. Any sellers impacted by this change will receive an email from Etsy this week about the changes we’re making.

Thanks for helping us protect shoppers’ privacy and keep Etsy safe!

Etsy sellers have been inundated with spam and scams through the platform, prompting Etsy to set up new protocols for messaging.

Etsy Sellers Receive Suspicious Offers To Purchase Their Stores As Spam & Scams Clog Message Inboxes
Etsy sellers report receiving suspicious offers to buy their businesses, highlighting influx of spam & scams through Etsy messaging system.

These scams are increasingly targeting new seller accounts and some have suspected the scammers may even have a way to find out brand new accounts shortly after they are created in order to target inexperienced sellers who are more likely to fall for these scams.

I want a refund of my unauthorized withdrawal money.
Unauthorized Payment Request I contacted Etsy Support and wrote to social media accounts. Support chat is also included!! Nobody is contacting me. They read and don’t respond!!! I am writing to request a refund of the $578.78 unauthorized charge on my card. On [12.26.2023] I received an SMS from Ets…

Unauthorized Payment Request I contacted Etsy Support and wrote to social media accounts. Support chat is also included!! Nobody is contacting me. They read and don't respond!!! I am writing to request a refund of the $578.78 unauthorized charge on my card.

On [12.26.2023] I received an SMS from Etsy stating that I needed to enter the code sent to my mobile phone to complete my seller registration. It did not allow charging!! and I didn't enter any code into my Etsy account!! I can send a copy of the text message I received from Etsy and a copy of my credit card statement showing the unauthorized charge.

I know Etsy has a policy of refunding unauthorized payments. I want you to investigate the problem and refund the money as soon as possible. I was also very disappointed with my experience with Etsy. I literally got scammed.

The API changes appear to impact third parties that might have been using buyer email information gleaned through the API.

Unfortunately, this thread has already been redacted by community staff, so it's not clear exactly what the email this seller received said, but it seems they are concerned about how it will impact their integration with eRank.

Protecting shoppers privacy on Etsy
Hi, I just received an email titled “An update on third-party API access” from Etsy Sellers with the message below. ******************************************* [This content has been removed by Moderation. We ask that you please review Section 1, Item 2 of our Community Policies before posting in th…

I just received an email titled "An update on third-party API access" from Etsy Sellers with the message below.

[This content has been removed by Moderation. We ask that you please review Section 1, Item 2 of our Community Policies before posting in the Forums.]

Please Note: eRank is listed on Etsy's Integrations, so I don't understand this email for several obvious reasons, can you please clarify?
Some questions:

  • Are you telling eRank might sell email addresses from our customers to third parties?
  • Do we still get the email addresses in the Orders & Shipping section?
  • Why don't you just block the email access from the API?
  • What happens when I quit my eRank subscription?

Every seller might need the email address from a customer for direct contact, this is very important for every seller!

Please clarify, and answer all our questions.

It looks like Aweber for email marketing will be impacted by this change as well.

Etsy is stoping the intagration with Aweber and it will harm my shop a lot
I signed up with Aweber for the express reason they intagrate with Etsy. Without the link with my Etsy shop it will harm my shop and impact my buyers that lose out on all the good things that come with the intagration. My customers chose to opt in. I don’t auto add them to a mailing list. Bad move E…

I signed up with Aweber for the express reason they intagrate with Etsy. Without the link with my Etsy shop it will harm my shop and impact my buyers that lose out on all the good things that come with the intagration. My customers chose to opt in. I don't auto add them to a mailing list.

Bad move Etsy.

Ecommerce consultant and Etsy seller Cindy Baldassi provided some interesting insight on the issue in a comment on LinkedIn as well, pointing out that restricting visibility of community posts could hurt Etsy in Google search.

All of it is interesting, but will do little to stop the scammers, as most aren't finding sellers in the forum. A big concern is that lots of older shop accounts can't even log into the forum because of issues stemming from the switch to Lithium several years ago, so I hope Support has been briefed on how to handle that old problem.

Not being available to Google and other search engines will reduce traffic to Etsy's domain, even more so now that Google is often featuring user posts from forums in their SERPs.

I am not entirely clear on why they would be limiting the access to buyer info now; it is possible I missed some scandal, or they received a complaint from a buyer. There likely were privacy law concerns that Etsy should have been on top of when they introduced API v.3, not now. I recently found out there is a new seller tool https://koalanda.pro/etsy-buyer-check that replaces Etsy Check & Karen Check (which could no longer could function after API v.2 shut down), so that may also be targeted by these changes.

While security on the site is important, it's also concerning that Etsy is restricting viewing access for most of the forum, which in turn may help the company avoid public scrutiny by media, analysts, shareholders and others who read community posts for information about a wide variety of issues on the platform.

For example, much of the media coverage of the Etsy payment reserve debacle last year came from public posts in the community forum that will no longer be public once this change is made.

Etsy Reserves Gain UK Media Attention, Will US Follow?
Etsy’s account reserves holding seller funds is gaining media attention in the UK, increasing scrutiny of the practice.

And seller critiques of Etsy policy and strategies, like bots going wild with automated take downs, various testing Etsy is doing to the site, or this recent list of suggestions for the "vital few" initiatives the company should prioritize in 2024 will not longer be publicly accessible either.

Etsy Sellers Sound Off On “Vital Few” Initiatives CEO Should Prioritize In 2024
Sellers have some strong suggestions for Etsy CEO Josh Silverman’s “Vital Few” initiatives in 2024.

Restricting viewing access to the majority of the Etsy community forum seems like a cop out rather than doing the hard work of addressing the underlying security issues in play, while conveniently helping Etsy to avoid public scrutiny of some of the most pressing and urgent issues facing sellers on the platform on a daily basis.

Etsy absolutely must act to ensure the safety of their users, but this heavy handed lockdown of a previously publicly viewable forum is not the way to go.

What do you think of Etsy closing access to the community forums? Let us know in the comments below!

EtsySeller UpdatesFraud

Liz Morton Twitter

Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of experience in online sales & marketplaces, providing expert commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Amazon, Etsy & more at Value Added Resource!