Fetlife group mentioned in UofI abduction case

CHAMPAIGN — Fetlife, the popular fetish social media site, was mentioned in mainstream reporting of an abduction case at the University of Illinois at Champaign.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday reported that suspect Brendt Christensen was a member of the Abduction 101 group on Fet.

From the Post-Dispatch:

According to authorities, a website that hosted an “Abduction 101” forum linked Christensen to the kidnapping of Zhang. According to the federal complaint, Christensen’s phone was used April 19 to visit that website, FetLife.cοm, including to view threads titled “Perfect abduction fantasy” and “planning a kidnapping.”

FetLife describes itself as “the Social Network for the BDSM, Fetish & Kinky Community,” stressing in online policy statements that it is a place for consenting adults to trade advice and images of themselves, and to arrange to meet. The acronym BDSM stands for bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism. Users provide their ages, genders and roles they wish to play, but otherwise remain anonymous.

Established in 2008 by Canadian software developer John Baku, it now claims more than 5 million registered members.

FetLife prohibited hundreds of fetish categories this year after it was cited in several criminal cases, Baku said in a February online note to members. He said he wanted to reduce legal liability and risks to the wider community.

FetLife policy guidelines stress that any interaction online or in person must be between adults and consensual.

The Post-Dispatch had reached out to Fetlife and Baku but had not received any responses as of Monday evening.

Christensen is suspected and being held without bond for the kidnapping of UofI graduate student Yingying Zhang.

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