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The Power of Pinterest

Image by Neil Patel

“Our mission is to bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love. To do that, we show you personalized content and ads we think you’ll be interested in based on information we collect from you and third parties.” Pinterest (2020, September 2). When you sign up for Pinterest, you voluntarily produce specific information such as your name, email address, phone number, photos, Pins, comments, and any information you are willing to share. You can also decide to include additional information such as your gender, age, and preferred language. Anyone under the age of 13 is not permitted to use Pinterest. If you connect your Facebook, Google, or other third-party accounts, Pinterest will use information from those accounts. Upon logging onto Pinterest with a phone or computer, your online activity is generated and stored automatically. A few of the different types of information collected include Log Data (any information that is collected whenever you visit a website), Cookie Data (text files with small amounts of data such as username and password which are designed to identify your computer), Device Information (Pinterest collects information about the type of device, operating system, different settings, personalized device identifiers, and crash data), Clickstream Data and Inferences (while on Pinterest, your activity will be tracked such as Pins you click on, boards you design, and text that is added in a comment or description). Pinterest will also collect information regarding your education and professional experience. However, users can change their settings to avoid being monitored by other websites such as Facebook, Google, etc. A user can customize their settings to control cookies, and on a mobile device, a user can decide if Pinterest knows their exact location, photos, contacts, etc.

Pinterest will also acquire information about you and your activity from their affiliates, advertisers, partners, and third-party accounts. The information Pinterest collects will identify you when you are on their website and will be able to recommend Pins, boards, subject matter, or categories you might prefer. This information allows Pinterest to reply to questions or comments. Not only will Pinterest benefit from using the information provided by the user, but the Pinterest user will benefit as well. To generate revenue, Pinterest will show ads that are only relevant to the user. Based on the user’s preferences, Pinterest chooses which advertisements to present to users. Also, they inform ad partners how often users view the ads. Pinterest will not sell the personal information of the user.

Pinterest is a service used worldwide. When a user signs up to join Pinterest, they have permitted Pinterest to send and maintain a user’s information outside their home country. Pinterest will keep a user’s data until the account is terminated, including websites that Pinterest shares personal information with and who fulfills services on their behalf.

Pinterest is a fun and easy to use social media site. Users can discover information to enrich their lives. Recipes, fashion trends, haircut styles, etc. are just a few examples of the enormous library of information available. Users create boards that have specific content. They use Pins to perfect the type of board they want to make. Users can add text/comments to other users’ boards. Posting on Pinterest has downsides as well. “In order to show relevant pins, Pinterest uses your search history, your location, your interests, your friends’ interests, and even your mobile’s microphone to gather information about your interests. This means Pinterest stores a lot of private data about you, and such data being stored online makes you vulnerable.” icytales. (2020, April 23). The more information a user has available online about their personal data, the more vulnerable you are to identity theft and online scams. To avoid potential problems in the future, go to Pinterest’s settings, and set up a private profile. A user can also switch off the personalization option to block sites they visit. Another simple trick a user can utilize is removing their last name. By removing the last name, a user can protect their identity. “Pinterest is very much like Facebook in that it records your IP address and the last website you were on before logging into Pinterest. It also uses cookies to track what sites you visit around the Internet. Pinterest, like many other websites, says that it collects this information to serve you products you might be interested in, but Pinterest also shares this information with other third parties.” Howe, J. (2015, December 29).

Image by Tracy Le Blanc

Pinterest has updated its privacy policy to include phone numbers as another means to track users. This new addition has given Pinterest another method to help advertisers to track users and enhance data profiles. Attaching this data point to a user’s profile increases the likelihood of creating more detailed social profiles and connect a user to a broader online presence. Pinterest also changed their wording in their privacy policy from “our partners” to “advertisers, partners, and other third parties we work with” regarding how Pinterest collects data from users. This new update includes app developers and data collection providers. The revised policy will help Pinterest to use data from advertisers to refine and target ad content. Pinterest has also added a mention of ad APIs. “API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. In other words, an API is the messenger that delivers your request to the provider that you’re requesting it from and then delivers the response back to you.” Pearlman, S. (2016, September 7). An API is another method of acquiring publicly available information from their site. APIs also give partner businesses more freedom to access user data for research purposes.

In addition to privacy concerns, copyright infringement is a significant issue with Pinterest. Because of Pinterest’s user agreements, Pinterest now owns the rights to use, display, reproduce, re-pin, or modify content the user shared. Most of the time, users are unaware of copyright infringement when they pin photographs, infographics, logos, icons, etc. Pinterest encourages its users to pin on boards for the benefit of the users. However, in many cases, Pinterest unwittingly directs users to violate copyright law. “There’s no question that Pinterest encourages re-pinning community photos. After all, the platform was built on the idea of sharing and collecting digital objects. But the goal is to ensure users pin from the original source, providing credit to the content owner and including a detailed description.” CreativeFuture. (2019, February 13).

Pinterest is a useful resource for ideas such as recipes, hairstyles, fashion, home decorating, and the list goes on.  When a user joins Pinterest, they need to be willing to share vital information about themselves.  One of the significant disadvantages of Pinterest’s privacy policy is that they have the right to collect data about your friends and contacts through Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.  Pinterest also has access to information about a user, such as their IP address. Most users would find this an invasion of privacy if Pinterest sold their data to other websites.

In contrast, there are also advantages to how and why Pinterest collects data from its users. Pinterest creates customized content for the user based on the information they gathered from advertisers and third-party accounts. A user will have advertisements that are directed at the user’s likes and interests. Overall, I think Pinterest is a useful educational resource for projects and exploring new topics. Pinterest does have options for the user to protect their privacy by opting out of pins and boards being public by going to settings and changing a few selections. It is up to the user to determine how public or private they want their Pinterest experience to be.

References:

Pinterest. (2020). Pinterest privacy policy. url: https://policy.pinterest.com/en/privacy-policy

icytales. (2020, April 23). Pinterest in fun, but there are privacy risks. url: https://www.icytales.com/pinterest-is-fun-but-there-are-privacy-risks/.

Howe, J. (2015, December 29). How to: managing your Pinterest security. url: https://blog.privatewifi.com/managing-your-pinterest-security/.

CreativeFuture. (2019, February 19). Is Pinterest a copyright infringement masterpiece? url: https://creativefuture.org/pinterest/.

Pearman, S. (2016, September 7). What are APIs and how do APIs work? url: https://blogs.mulesoft.com/biz/tech-ramblings-biz/what-are-apis-how-do-apis-work/.

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