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Privacy and edible exchanges.

The other day I was asked to take two edible exchanges of the website because of privacy concerns. Sure there are some issues that the Trade Shack should not charge $2 for membership, so let’s dive into it….

Is the Trade Shack private?

We like to think so. No data concerning listings, edible exchanges, trade shacks or other initiatives are available to the public. We do not sell it, publicise it. Above all, it is only available to those who need to know. 

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Our privacy layers

It is not like you can come to the Trade Shack site and get all the details of the Eatons Hill Edible exchange or the Samford Edible exchange. That is not how it works, We focus on local communities and the privacy of those communities. 

You have to be given access, based upon your Postcode, to information. When you join Trade Shack, you can request access to edible exchanges or other initiatives. The administrator of that initiative will approve or decline your request. We do not do that. We provide the tools. It is managed locally by locals. We never publish those details, outside the paywall, without permission. Privacy is important to us. 

We do not give out who manages the edible exchanges. We do not publish names or addresses. If we do, it is information already available on the net. We put it behind a subscription/paywall and ask permission. 

Some examples where we asked permission: 

  • Food Foraging Australia is a telegram channel dedicated to identifying wild plants you can eat. We contacted the channel owner and asked for permission. Permission was given with the condition that posts are available for everyone. 
  • Brisbane Edible Gardening, we contacted the webmaster/owner and asked if we could link to her page. Permission was given with the condition not to take information from the page. Linking was fine, copy not. 

We do that will all pages we list or link to. 

Is it wrong to charge for a service?

One of the reasons why we charge $2 per month is to pay for the cost and to build up a “start-up fund for new initiatives”. 10% after cost goes into a fund to help new initiatives with money. 

The two dollars are also to keep your information private. The likely hood of a bot or data scraper paying $2 per month is very slim. In your profile, you can configure how much you want others to see. You are in control of your data.

The data we use is your lodging details to check who you are, your subscription status and your postcode. We use the postcode to link you to initiatives and locations. We only show places to paying members. As you can see from the image below, if you are not an approved member, you simply will not see the information. We are not Google trying to give information out regardless. 

Privacy protection members only.

We do make mistakes.

There was a bit of an “OMG” moment when some concerned members on the local Facebook page  posted a claim that Trade Shack is breaching their privacy by advertising their home addresses on our website. The Edible Exchange administrators of Eatons Hill Edible Exchange and Samford Edible Exchange are worried about Trade Shack posting their location details. Claiming their kids are involved, and all sorts of other issues were thrown at us. 

Time to look at this closer, as we take these things seriously it, they are the kind of claims that make you sit up and take notice. 

We quickly looked at the website and tried to find the breach where we would be publishing those details for all to see, but we could not find any. However, plenty of other websites publish the exact location of those Edible Exchanges together with opening times and turn-by-turn instructions. It appears there are other causes, like all-out publicity campaigns, that backfired

I guess credit is due where credit is due. Well done, Exchange administrators, for getting your location out there for all to see. A good idea? I do not think so. Trade Shack involved? Absolutely not. It is your own doing that you now try to backtrack. 

What happened is exactly what we warned about in the Edible Exchange Course we wrote after talking to some of the experts. Recommended reading, some good tips in there. 

If you are concerned about the privacy of your family and kids, then it is probably best not to post your details on Facebook. Or tell Google maps where you are so you can provide directions to the Edible Exchange, being your home address. If people need directions to get to your local Edible Exchange, you might rethink whether they are local enough. 

It is certainly not a good idea to do newspaper interviews, YouTube sessions and TV interviews. If you want to be famous, running an Edible Exchange is most likely not the outlet to use. In our course (it is more of a write-up), we stress that you do not want “Edible Exchange Tourists.”

Here are some pointers from the course: 

  • Keep it LOCAL, by locals for locals. Using the Trade Shack is a good way of doing it. 
  • Be careful with Main Stream Media. Every newspaper is looking for a good news story. You might be it, beware though. Too much attention will create Edible Exchange Tourists. Wide-spread advertising will lead to more traffic and visits from people who just come and have a look. You do not want that. 
  • Word of mouth is the best. Online is great, but Trade Shack promotes offline interactions… there is too much reliance on online media. Sometimes it cannot be avoided. Edible Exchanges is such a scenario. 

Some people will fall for the excitement of doing good and getting recognition (so they should). Just remember. Most likely, you do not live in the street by yourself. Respect your neighbourhood; having it advertised in Main Stream Media is not the best way to “keep the peace”.

The discussion on the Facebook page quickly turned into what the real essence was. Control and money, the Trade Shack should not charge for the service it tries to provide. Edible Exchanges are free and volunteer initiatives. Is it wrong to charge $2 per month to give people access? If you do, people will be left out.

Is Facebook really free?

If your definition of free is not paying for it using mona ey or a Credit Card, then arguably it is free. You pay for Facebook one way or the other, and using Edible Exchange Facebook pages or any other Facebook page is paid for with private data. 

Facebook makes money by selling your habits, data and profile. Any time you use Fakebook, you permit them to harvest:

  • When you log in and from where (including your IP address)
  • How long you spend scrolling
  • People, accounts, pages, groups, and hashtags you connect with
  • Places you check in to
  • Pages you follow
  • How you use Facebook’s camera
  • Metadata of content you share (like the location of a photo)
  • Contact information (if uploaded from a device)
  • Who you talk to on Messenger and for how long
  • Items you buy through Facebook
  • Information other people share about you

That is just a subset of all the data that is collected. What is the price for that? It is naive to think it costs nothing. Facebook is making money with it, about $70 billion, give and take a dollar. 

Facebook even tracks you when you do not have an account. And that does not even include the connections created via your friends and associates.  So nope Facebook is not free. 

The Trade Shack is not interested in your data. We use your login details to check if you are a subscriber and your postcode to guide you to the nearest initiative. Even then, the initiative administrator has to approve your access. 

What you buy/sell/swap/exchange is purged after seven days if it is perishable, and classifieds are purged after 60 days. Gone, no record.  Payment data we do not store or keep. 


Finger-pointing at the Trade Shack that it published personal details is just wrong. It is a sure thing to “kill” a good initiative. It shows that Google and Facebook publish all the address details provided by the Edible Exchange Administrators (Eatons Hill and Samford) themself. Nothing to do with the Trade Shack. The Trade Shack Edible Exchange Course warned not to go “overboard” with advertising.

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