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Guidelines & Legalese

FetLife's guidelines, privacy policy, legal info, etc.


Since Spotting can have severe consequences on and off-site for targeted members, we do not allow spotting on FetLife.

What is Spotting?

We define Spotting as any post created to intentionally harass, mock, or malign another member by referring to the member directly or indirectly.

What is in violation of this guideline?

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Status update, writing, group post, picture, or video created for Spotting, where a member is:
    • Mentioned by member account name, member number, or direct link
    • Not mentioned by member account name, but hints are made that easily identify them
    • Referred to by a widely known alias
  • Spotting an ex-partner where no consent violation is mentioned
  • Where the member is not mentioned in the OP, but someone in the comments identifies them

What is not in violation of this guideline?

Examples include:

  • Sharing the member account name or the legal name of someone who has been removed from the site based on our Registered Sex Offender Guideline
  • Sharing of a victim statement (e.g. consent violation)
    • In the case of a victim statement, if the member's account name or legal name is mentioned or hints are made that easily identify them, we will redact it for legal liability purposes
    • If after the victim statement is redacted, the member re-adds the identifying information, the entire content risks being removed
  • Saying someone can PM (private message) you for the member's account name
  • Member is referred to using information that is not widely known
  • When outing or identifying yourself as the person being discussed
  • Status update, writing, group post, picture, video, or comment where:
    • Member is NOT mentioned at all
    • Anonymized nicknames are used (e.g. 'X', 'Dude’, ’Bro', etc.)
    • Direct replies to a member in a thread where the member is present
  • Criticism of a group, venue, organization, etc., where one specific leader is not focused on and spotted
  • A reply to a member in a subthread that took place before a block
  • Group Banned List
    • A group Banned List must be posted inside the group, not in the restricted section or group description, and cannot include the reason for the ban
    • Mentioning a permabanned member

How do I report a potential violation of this guideline?

You can report potential Spotting as follows:

  1. Visit the page with the potentially offensive material
  2. Select "...", “More”, or “Options”, then select “Report”
  3. Select "Content Not Permitted"
  4. Select "Next"
  5. Add any additional information that you think is important
  6. Select "Report"

For more information, you can refer to Submitting a Report.

Who can report a potential violation of this guideline?

Any member who comes across potential Spotting can report the content.

What happens if someone violates this guideline?

If someone spots another member, they get a warning.

After a member gets three warnings, they are given a one-day timeout on the fourth Spotting.


What do you mean by legal liability?

In many places, including Canada, where FetLife is headquartered, someone can be held liable for "publishing" defamatory matter.

There's a three-part test for defamation, sometimes referred to as libel, for written material:

  • Is it defamatory? Defamation is communication that hurts a person's reputation. Making a criminal accusation is, by definition, defamatory.
  • Does it refer to the person? A Canadian court held in a case that a FetLife account name was sufficient to identify an individual.
  • Was it "published"? If FetLife has knowledge of the accusation, for example by it being reported to us, the material has been considered "published".