Safeguarding Members' IDs in Oz

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The Safeguarding Member IDs 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 Safeguarding Member IDs 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’re implementing this new system on listings with a high bid of $200 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 $200 will display as it does today.

On the bid history page for each listing we’ll replace 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’ll 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 will be 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.

Originally available only on the US Motors site, the feature has now rolled in Australia too.

Traditionally, bidder transparency has been the single safeguard in place to stop sellers artificially inflating their prices by bidding on their own auctions. However, eBay now have so many back-office solutions in place to track linked account activity. These make it much easier to stop shill bidders, so that displaying the names of bidders is no longer justifiable on those grounds when fraud prevention requires that they are kept hidden.

eBay must take the line that reducing fraud peripheral to the site is the highest priority; and if a choice has to be made, it’s more important to save someone from being robbed of hundreds of pounds than to stop a shill bidder pushing a final price up by a fiver. This move will certainly make fraudsters lives more difficult, and I applaud it.


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