On FetLife and Our Discontents—SIGNAL BOOST: …and the rape (finally) hits the fan on FetLife

Everyone who uses, or who has ever considered using FetLife needs to read this. Now.

Once you have, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

  1. When you upload a photo to FetLife, there is absolutely no known or reliable way you can ever delete that photo from their content distribution network. Even if you delete the photo from FetLife, it remains on the Internet.
  2. FetLife is a ridiculously insecure website, suffering from egregious security vulnerabilities, despite their claims to the contrary.
  3. FetLife has long been isolationist to a dangerous degree. To quote Erigone: “Quick challenge for anyone who thinks FL has not replaced the community network that used to exist.

    "Go off Fetlife. Pretend you don’t have an account. Use google search, check all your favorite group sites. Try to find munches in your area, demos, play-parties, whatever, in your area without using FL. Any luck?

    "It’s funny, after I moved I thought where I now lived was too conservative for an alt-sex community because everything I found that related (about 3 yahoo groups) was completely dead. I didn’t want to join FL because I had heard it was for BDSM hook-ups which I was not interested in. There weren’t website listings for local groups, not even something with the bare essentials BDSM 101 stuff. In fact, from a not on FL perspective it seemed like the entire lifestyle was floundering. Where once local group sites abounded with snippets and bits of info, now there is nothing.

    […]

    "[I]f you can’t find the lifestyle without FL, if you can’t even discover that munches happen and that there are in fact a small friendly band of kinksters that gather at your local coffee shop just to chat without a FL account…

    "Then YES, FL has replaced the community we knew."

If, after the above and all of the below, you choose to deactivate your account (you are not actually ever given the option of deleting your own account), but you wish to retain an archive of your FetLife history, you may do so using the FetLife Export tool I wrote.

As usual, please distribute this information widely. Patches to the FetLife Export tool are also welcome.

(Also, please note I’m presently on the move and don’t always have reliable access to the Internet. Numerous folks have already contacted me privately about this issue, and I appreciate, read, and consider all of your correspondence. If you haven’t received a reply from me, it’s because I’m sleeping in fields and under bridges. Such is—my—life. Your generosity, in the form of monetary donations, offers of shelter, and food, is always greatly appreciated.)

sinshine:

DreamsOfSpider:

Why is it more ethical for someone to tell all their friends (who presumably tell all their friends, etc.) that Mr. Bad Top is bad news, v. posting a journal entry saying “Mr. Bad Top is bad news”? As far as I can see, if Mr. Bad Top is innocent, he’s in a better position in the second case — he’s more likely to find out that he’s being accused, and he can then speak up with his side of the story.

This snippet is good enough, but then I went and read the post it was commenting on, which I’ma repost here before it gets fucking disappeared:

I just received the following email.

Note | 646 Comments · 594 Love It |4 days ago

Hi there,
I’m a caretaker with the FetLife team. Recently we had a report about your writing, and after review, your writing has been edited and we are writing to let you know. Basically, it’s really not cool to post something that accuses another member of FetLife of a crime. So, we’re giving you a heads up that this behavior is discouraged on our site.
Please know that continued posts like this will result in a warning, and continued warnings can get you removed from FetLife. We really hate to do that, so we hope you’ll avoid any inappropriate comments in the future.
If you’re having a problem or conflict with another user – we want to help! Please let us know what’s going on, so that we can get involved and help to resolve the issue. We’d much rather do that, than play the bad guy :) We hope you understand, and if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to get back to us.
Christopher

This Caretaker edited my journal entry to remove the names of MATTHEW, who is not a user of the site anymore and another dominant member of the New York City scene who sexually penetrated me without my consent. He also removed a comment on the journal entry by @Cashmere, who stated that that same site user had similarly sexually penetrated her after she had explicitly told him not to interact with her genitals or penetrate her in any way.

I’m going to say that again: CHRISTOPHER EDITED MY JOURNAL ENTRY TO DELETE A REFERENCE TO TWO PEOPLE WHO SEXUALLY ASSAULTED ME AND ANOTHER PERSON.

EDIT

>Dear yandy,

What you’ve gone through is terrible, and no one should ever have to go through it. As we’ve told you before, we’re totally fine with you talking about your experiences here on FetLife.
Unfortunately making criminal accusations is not currently allowed on FetLife, as you very well know. And now we’ve received another report of you making criminal accusations. Accordingly, we have edited out that part of that post as well, and are now giving you an official FetLife warning.
Please note – we are trying to make as minor of changes as we can to your posts, to preserve their integrity as much as we can while still keeping them within our rules. If there is anything we can help you with, please let us know
Christopher

EDIT

Dear yandy,
What has happened to you is terrible. No one is trying to deny that – not anyone that I have seen in that thread or elsewhere. And people who do that sort of thing to any other human beings should pay. They should have to pay for what they did to you. No matter what price they pay, that won’t restore you to the person you were before this occurred. But they damn well should have to pay to make it as close as possible!
Unfortunately, what you are trying to do doesn’t make that happen. Making criminal accusations is currently against FetLife rules, as you are very aware of. And those we will delete, but try to do so in such a manner as to change your writing or comments as little as possible.
I realize that you don’t agree with this policy. I wish that we could move forward together, to foster awareness of the problem within the community, to try to minimize the mindset among some who don’t seem to realize how wrong this is, and to help victims of sexual assault within our community in particular. Those things we stand ready to help foster and assist.
Christopher

Then this post, as a response.

Hey Fetlife, you want my money? STOP PROTECTING RAPISTS.

Journal Entry | 410 Comments · 503 Love It |4 days ago

I’ve been on this site since the year it started and have paid to support it since. I love how it brings together even the farthest corners of the bdsm world, and it’s played an integral role in my career as a bdsm professional and businesswoman.

My support subscription ran out a week or so ago. At one point, I was certain that I was going my renewal would be as a lifetime supporter. Lately, I’ve been ambivalent, and THIS just clinches it.

Seriously Fet, WHAT THE FUCK. You silence victims and survivors while giving abusers a fucking megaphone. You want my money? Not until we’re able to talk freely about our own abuse and violation without censorship. And to anyone invested in establishing a consent culture in the bdsm world… well, money talks.

OFFICIAL PROTEST PETITION: No money until we pass Prop 429

Breaking news

Notice that the protest event above has been deleted by Fet, with no explanation or warning given to any of us. I guess it was working! Two more protest events have now taken its place.

Protest!
Protest!

Just in case anyone is curious, THIS is the reason I don’t hang out on FetLife. But wait, there’s more…

From the man himself, John Baku, site founder:

Clueless Response #1

In response to your “Edited again”:
Rape is one of the worse crimes anyone can commit. Words can’t describe how disgusting rape is and how much hate I have for anyone who has in any way shape or form sexually assaulted another person.
And the only way to protect others from a sexual offender is by putting them behind bars. Not talking about them on FetLife, Facebook, writing a blog post on the interwebs… etc. It does not prevent this person from doing what they did again to someone else.
Agreed… the legal system has failed many a person… but all this energy should be spent improving the system and not allowing other to name their abusers on a site that is not setup, nor has the resources, to give a fair trial to both parties.
So let’s put our energy towards locking up the rapists and throwing away the keys! This way those who have raped can’t do it again and those who would ever consider rape would be so scared shitless of the consequences they would never even consider it.

Clueless Response #2

@yandy Once again I apologize for the way Christopher handled the case. The case was mishandled and we’ve spoken to him about it.
The overall health of FetLife’s community is by far our number one priority and that is why all of us spend so much time reading what people are saying.
I’ve read suggestion 429 and I’ve also read a lot of other discussions on the topic. From what I’ve read, the community is split on what direction FetLife should take so as a community we need to continue to push our ideas further until we find something that the community, overwhelmingly, can get behind.
Hence, we will continue to iterate over our policies and procedures as we discover new ways to make them better for the community.

Let me just stop for a second and say something I definitely would not be allowed to say on FetLife regarding this choice bit:

Words can’t describe how disgusting rape is and how much hate I have for anyone who has in any way shape or form sexually assaulted another person. - John Baku

John Baku sexually assaulted me. Drunk. At a kink party. In front of many others. I have pictures, which he has personally asked me not to post.

In that I had met him before and was sort of fond of him and he sort of reminded me of another drunk misbehaving dumbass I once loved, I laughed it off. But let it be clear - the reason John sees no problem with any of this rape apologist bullshit is because he has a foggy ass notion of consent and acceptable behavior himself.

And because HE PERSONALLY benefits from people like me staying silent.

About the policy itself, from other members:

Ninotchka:

It’s not that Facebook permits criminal accusations because they’re sympathetic to potential rape victims and what the hey, we’re a massive company, who cares if we get sued. Every company out to make a profit doesn’t want to get sued. Facebook in fact, does permit criminal accusations to be made via Facebook before they are decided by a trial, sometimes with unusual results. Facebook doesn’t take a stance on criminal accusations because it’s not their fucking problem. The second they try to control it, they create a precedent for deciding that it is their fucking problem - and then they’re going to have to answer the question of why they didn’t comb through a seriously gigantic amount of data to find all the shit that a judge or a jury thinks they ought to have found. That’s not how Facebook’s going to roll. If you have a problem with something someone said on Facebook, Facebook will cheerfully direct you to your local law enforcement.

Take a look at that. That’s how a company with a legit team on counsel handles their business, as opposed to John Baku and whatever dinky mail-order law-school drop-out he picked up at the local bar five years ago or whatever the fuck he did instead of trying to run his business like something other than a clueless fuckhead. If you’re going to cover your ass, cover your ass fucking properly.

Right. So. FetLife is Canadian, so oh noes we cannot name the rapists. Yes, Canada does have much stronger privacy laws than the United States. I wonder if that’s why they’re running this shit out of Dallas. John Baku is based out of Vancouver, but his staff is scattered all over North America. Honestly, we don’t even know to what extent FetLife “is” a Canadian company. According to what I just linked to, they registered their domain in Arizona. I think that complicates the “oh no we’re Canadian” defense a wee bit.

But what really complicates the “oh noes they’re naming the rapists” argument is the whole “oh noes they’re talking about pedophilia and bestiality and whatnot but oh hey watch us not give a shit” argument. If FetLife really had legal reasons for covering their ass, they’d do a much better job. That means that, yeah, John Baku needs to step up and tell us why he supports a self-admitted abuser’s right to not have his old username besmirched over the right of a human being to talk about some devastating shit that happened to them. Shit that they might’ve not had to go through if people could use FetLife to warn each other about people on FetLife. Which is all we’re asking.

tl;dr Fuck you, FetLife. Fuck you raw.

MataLeao

If another person who has had no fucking experience reporting a kink scene related sexual assault to the police says to report an incident to the police, I swear I am going to burn the fucking Internet down.

TheValeyard:

If one more goddamn person says “Go to the cops”, I’m firebombing.

LIke the cops are going to do fuck-all. Seriously.

This is so fucked up.

See also: http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/theres-a-war-on-part-4-just-us/

And this:

Mad_Patter: 

Honestly, if someone’s advice is to go to the police or the courts, then that should be the same standard applied to libel and false accusations. If someone makes a false accusation against you, go to the police. Stop expecting fetlife to police people for you. Oh wait, now we see why that response is just a derail.

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  1. faerie-in-thrall reblogged this from sinshine
  2. pseudorawr reblogged this from thingsmellylikes and added:
    Pretty disturbing..
  3. kilroyishere89 reblogged this from thingsmellylikes
  4. thingsmellylikes reblogged this from sinshine and added:
    Everyone that is on fetlife need to read this. Seriously.
  5. joylesseuphoria reblogged this from sinshine
  6. thesmalltimemisfit reblogged this from sinshine
  7. atroposmoira reblogged this from sinshine and added:
    I have personally been harassed by several men on Fet, and have the messages to prove it. I’ve had to report a couple...
  8. mellostopheles reblogged this from sinshine
  9. thesnowflakemenagerie reblogged this from fallenagain
  10. fallenagain reblogged this from sinshine
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  13. femme-a-lenvers reblogged this from thisspinsterlife
  14. thestormygail reblogged this from thisspinsterlife and added:
    extremely important considering...community behave inappropriately. And
  15. sailoralecs reblogged this from bonersaurus-sex
  16. bonersaurus-sex reblogged this from thisspinsterlife and added:
    The more I hear, the further I distance myself from fetlife. I loved it soooo much when I first found it, hell, I...
  17. eveamedeus reblogged this from sinshine
  18. sinshine reblogged this from sinshine and added:
    Update here: Letter...Apology & More Info (by
  19. opinion8d reblogged this from maymay
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  21. hel-dc reblogged this from sinshine
  22. plainlaine reblogged this from notyrqueer
  23. wehaveallgotknives reblogged this from thegreatgodum
  24. thegreatgodum reblogged this from maymay and added:
    longpost, tw: sexual assault, but important.
  25. themakingofmischief reblogged this from sinshine and added:
    almost 4 years. The TOS needs...able to name abusers
  26. idlnmclean reblogged this from maymay
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