03/16/2011 04:18 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How To Change Your Etsy Privacy Settings To Protect Your Profile From Prying Eyes

Nothing on the web is ever private. If you thought you can control your privacy, you were wrong. Websites may give you security options to better hide your information from the world, but ultimately your privacy resides in the hands of the website itself. We've seen how websites let ad companies track our private usage. We've seen how Facebook mucked up their privacy controls. We even saw how websites like Gawker are prone to hackers stealing user information. And now, Etsy has made what was once private, public.

The online vintage and crafts marketplace recently caused an uproar when Etsy users suddenly discovered that some of their information had been made publicly viewable. We're talking feedback posts, purchases and user profiles. But that's not what sparked the outrage--in some cases, real names were made public AND searchable.

All of this was because of Etsy's new People Search tool, which lets anybody search for Etsy users--buyers and sellers alike--and let's those user profiles show up in Google. On those public profiles, you could find real names, purchase history and feedback left. Their goal--to build a community feature called "Circles" that lets users connect with each other.But some users claim they weren't notified of the new People Search function and change in Etsy's privacy policy, though Etsy insists otherwise.

Some of the Etsy users affected may not want everyone to see their feedback that was once personal exposed, especially when it comes to something like dildos. Etsy has since corrected the problem in their feedback system due to user concerns, but you still need to take control of your Etsy account to keep it from prying eyes.

Step 1 Log In

Make sure you're logged into your Etsy account.

Step 2 Account

Click the Your Account link in the top right-hand side of the webpage next to your user name.

Step 3 Settings

Now, on the left-hand menu bar, click on the Settings link.

Step 4 Privacy

Click on the Privacy tab to view your privacy settings.

Step 5 Favorites

If you want to make your favorites private, then select Only you (private).

Step 6 Findability

If you don't want other users to find you by your email address, then select No.

Step 7 Purchases

Your purchase history remains private on Etsy, and that had never changed. What changed is the feedback system, which Etsy updated, as mentioned before.

Step 8 Save

Make sure to save all of your changes made by pressing the Update Privacy Settings button at the bottom. Your changed will not be saved unless you do so.

Step 9 Real Name

To keep your "real name" from showing up in Google search or Etsy search, then you'll want to change it to an alias. Click on Profile in the left-hand menu bar.

Click the Change link next to your full name.

When the pop-up window comes up, change your name to whatever you'd like.

Once you Save Changes, you'll get a notification above your profile information.

You have to wait for Etsy to approve the name change before you see your old name disappear. Until then, you'll see a "Name change pending" next to your original full name.

Alternatively, you can delete your name immediately, without Etsy review/approval, just by deleting it in the Change Full Name pop-up window and saving.

Step 10 Profile Settings

To further control your Etsy user profile, scroll down to the bottom of the Profile page in Your Account. Here you can verify that your favorites are set to private, along with a few more changes you can make to what's included on your profile page.

Now, these changes are the best you can do to protect your information on Etsy, aside from deleting your account. It may not prevent another Etsy debacle, but it definitely helps in the now.

Via How To Change Your Etsy Privacy Settings to Protect Your Profile from Prying Public Eyes on WonderHowTo.