February 06, 2007 | 11:54AM a SGT
Since eBay began in 1995, it's been our job to balance the need for openness and transparency in the marketplace with the need to protect our Community of members from the threats that have appeared as the Internet has flourished. As the Community has grown to the size of a large country today, we've had to take measures to protect our members that also reduce transparency.
The User IDs of members – plus their member information such as feedback and previous bidding and/or buying activity – have always been freely available to anyone visiting the site. Members have been able to access this information from the item page, bid history page, and Advanced Search by Bidder feature. Unfortunately, while bid history and contact information about trading colleagues are helpful when evaluating a transaction, and provide a level of trust within the transaction, bad guys can use this information for potentially harmful purposes.
One way they use this information is to send unwanted commercial spam, spoof emails, and fake Second Chance Offer emails. While legitimate Second Chance Offer emails are a great tool on eBay that give sellers the ability to offer another buyer an additional item they may have available, fake Second Chance Offers and other types of solicitations sent by bad guys generally lure the targeted member off the eBay Web site and collect payment through an unsafe payment method, such as wire transfer, all while providing the false impression that eBay endorses the transaction.
As our Community knows, the problem of spam, spoof and fake Second Chance Offer emails has not gone away. In fact, despite industry leading efforts to educate the Community about online safety (eBay Toolbar, tutorials and safety messaging), partnering with law enforcement and industry groups, and investments in technology that make the site more safe, we've seen this problem grow. Increasingly, sellers and buyers have turned to us for a solution.
Introducing the Safeguarding Member IDs (SMI) Project
The SMI project is a new approach to auction-style listings that offers more privacy for our members through changing how bidding information is displayed. Following intensive development and review as well as Community input, we believe the SMI project provides the Community with enough information about the bidders involved in an auction-style listing for them to feel confident in placing a bid – without revealing actual User IDs. We’ve implemented this new system on listings with a winning bid of US$200 (or S$300) or greater, which is where we believe it can have the greatest positive impact. The bid information for listings where the bid is lower than US$200 (or S$300) will display as it has previously.
Here's what has changed:
- On the bid history page for each listing, we have replaced member User IDs with aliases (such as Bidder 1, Bidder 2 and Bidder 3) in the order of their bids placed. For each bidder involved in a listing, we display the number of bids in unique categories that they've placed, a range that their feedback score falls within (i.e. 10-49, for instance), their percentage of positive feedback, their length of time as an eBay member, and the number of bids they've placed on the item. At the end of a listing, the winning bidder's User ID is displayed on the item page. Please note: Sellers will still be able to access bidder information on their listings through the Bid History page and the My eBay selling table.
- In My eBay, members will no longer have access to the winning bidder column from bid and watch tables.
- On the item page, you'll only be able to see the winning bidder’s ID if you are the signed-in seller of the item or the signed-in winning bidder.
- Through the Advanced Search by Bidder link, we'll only show completed listings within the last 30 days.
Future enhancements are being designed that will provide even more transaction data about the bidders and seller involved in a transaction. We'll continue to update the community on these changes as these plans become finalised.
This project launched at the end of January, 2007. Be assured that we will continue to monitor the sites where SMI has launched to ensure that increased shill bidding does not become an unintended consequence of SMI. We hope these stronger measures will ensure our members can continue to feel safe when transacting on eBay.
To learn more, please read our Safeguarding Member ID Frequently Asked Questions.
The eBay Singapore team