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Type Social Networking
Headquarters Vancouver, Canada
Parent BitLove, Inc.
Website https://fetlife.com/
Written in Ruby on Rails
Type of site Adult Social Networking
Registration Required
Available in English
Current status Active

FetLife is a social networking website that serves people interested in BDSM, fetishism, and kink. On its homepage, FetLife describes itself as, "Similar to Facebook and MySpace but run by kinksters like you and me." FetLife distinguishes itself from competitors by emphasizing itself as a social network rather than a dating site.[1]


FetLife was launched in January 2008 by John Baku, a software engineer in Montreal, Quebec.[2] Frustrated by attempts to find women who had the same sexual interests as he did, Baku created a website in 2007 called “FriendsWithFetishes”. While working on release 2.0 of FriendsWithFetishes, Baku decided to launch it as a separate site and named it FetLife.[3]

In 2012, FetLife found itself at the center of a controversy regarding its policy that users pledge not to "make criminal accusations against another member in a public forum,"[4] which many of its users object to[5][6] on the basis that it prevents them from warning other users of alleged rapists, murderers,[7][8] and sexual predators who frequent the site.[9][10][11][12]


Members may create a personal profile and list which fetishes they are "into" or are "curious about." The search feature is deliberately limited to prevent members from finding users with specific characteristics, such as age, sex, or location. Members can also upload pictures and videos, including sexually explicit ones often rejected by other sites. They can write journal entries (called Writings), and send and receive private messages (called Conversations) with other members. Users can create "fetishes" both for genuine and satirical purposes.

Groups on FetLife are subject categories in which users may start Discussions. Members must join the particular group in order to comment on "Discussion" threads. Events are listings of in-person events such as conventions, workshops, parties, and meetings to which members can RSVP as going or maybe going.

Members may report illegal content as well as terms of use violations to the administrators of FetLife.


An account is required to view content on FetLife, although since membership is free, the level of privacy offered by the site is minimal. In practice, this means the site is not indexed by search engines and, partly because of this, critics have argued that FetLife presents itself as being more private than it is.[13]


FetLife runs on a custom nginx variant of the Ubuntu/Debian distribution of GNU/Linux; it was adapted from the brightbox version.[14]

In addition, the open source page on Fetlife lists notable technologies used that includes:


  1. ^ "FetLife Home Page". Retrieved 2013-05-11. 
  2. ^ Zanin, Andrea (2008-09-04). "Facebook for the kinky: Montreal-based FetLife.com networks fetishists of the world". Montreal Mirror. Archived from the original on 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  3. ^ Baku, John (2008-01-10). "FetLife.com Launches - The First Social Network for Kinksters". Sexual Deviants Living In A Web 2.0 World. Archived from the original on 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  4. ^ "Terms of Use". FetLife.com. 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  5. ^ Clark-Flory, Tracy (2012-06-03). "A BDSM Blacklist". Salon. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  6. ^ J.M. Baker, Katie (2012-11-08). "Kink Community Tells Sexual Assault Victims It’s All Their Fault". Jezebel. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  7. ^ Haddadin, Jim (2013-05-07). "Police eyeing records from online dating site, sex networks in Marriott case". MetroWest Daily News. Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  8. ^ Dubinski, Kate (2013-01-09). "Teacher case exposes Internet's sinister side". The London Free Press. Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  9. ^ White, Rachel (2012-11-16). "The Story of ‘No’: S&M Sex Clubs Sprout Up on Ivy Campuses, and Coercion Becomes an Issue". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  10. ^ Allen, Samantha (2012-12-27). "$35g bail for murder suspect's girlfriend: Portsmouth woman charged with hindering probe into Lizzi Marriott's disappearance". Foster's Daily Democrat. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  11. ^ Jeffrey, Tara (2013-01-06). "Accused linked to disturbing online profiles". Sarnia Observer. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  12. ^ Haas, Kimerley (June 12, 2014). "'Kat' breaks calm, snaps at Barth: Prosecution later describes Mazzaglia's personal preferences on Fetlife.com". Foster's Daily Democrat. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  13. ^ Flox, Anaiis (2011-08-27). "FetLife Is Not Safe For Users". Sex and the 405. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  14. ^ "nginx-fetlife on Github". 

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