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Understanding the new
Pinterest Terms of Service
What is Pinterest?
A visual bookmarking tool for saving and discovering creative ideas
They call it: The world’s catalogue of ideas
More than half of Pinterest users are outside the United States (October 2016)
Pinterest users (aka Pinners) were sent an email stating if they live outside
the USA, their “products and services will be provided by Pinterest Europe
Limited, an Irish company based in Dublin.”
And “If you keep using Pinterest after 1 November 2016, you’re letting us
and that you’ve read and agreed to both.” That’s implied acceptance.
How many Pinners ever read the email?
150 million users on Pinterest each month. Population of Russia is 146 million,
and Mexico 128 million. 80 million Pinners live outside the USA.
The email open rate benchmark sits at 21.69% for social networks and online
communities. If the email went to all outside the USA, just over 17 million
opened the email.
Email link click benchmark is 3.44%, meaning under 3 million Pinners (less
A study revealed that only 7% of people bothered to “read the online terms
and conditions when signing up for products and services”.
An attrition of informed Pinners!
What on Earth did we agree to? Did we agree?
They are lengthy, often in small font size, and laden with legal jargon and
“dry, impenetrable prose” that are near impossible to comprehend.
2,170 words with a readability grade of 11; and 71 of 119 sentences rated hard to
very hard to read. Despite that “Pinterest is not aimed at children under 13”, it is
difficult to imagine teens attempting to comprehend it!
Nonetheless, we agree to these legally-binding contracts everyday. Right?
The legalese is a loose match
You will need to read both sides to fully comprehend the contract.
Children are not allowed
Any use or access by anyone under
the age of 13 is prohibited.
You can use Pinterest unless you're
under 13. Become a teenager and
suddenly the world’s catalogue of
ideas is yours!
You might see bad content
The TOS warns you could see porn or spam
Porn and spam are banned
The legal jargon made no comprehendible
mention of banned content.
It is clear from the plain language side that
porn and spam are forbidden.
You can report objectionable or inappropriate
content and they decide what is and what
isn’t porn and spam before a take down.
You agree that you risk stumbling upon “bad
stuff on user-generated content sites like
Help describes more bad content
Help > Safety and standard is where the bad content policies are: Copyright FAQ,
Graphic violence, Harassment and cyberbullying, Hate speech, Impersonation,
Nudity, Pinterest Terms of Service, Spam on Pinterest, Suicide and self-harm.
Posting your content
Pinterest allows you to post content including photos, comments, links and other
Content ownership & responsibility =
If you post your content on Pinterest, it belongs to you, but this ownership is
only valuable to you for your own purposes. Also, you alone are liable.
Both Pinterest and other Pinners can do whatever they like with your posts.
You don’t have to be asked for permission, paid, or contacted. Anyone can
copy and change copies of your content. It’s an open slather remix haven.
Removing your content
We reserve the right to remove or
modify User Content for any
Pinterest will take down or change
your content if they want to.
There’s no mention of giving you a
heads-up about it.
Keeping your content after deletion
When you delete your content from Pinterest, you won’t be able to see it on
Copies of your content can remain scattered throughout the community as
long as … well, possibly forever.
Your feed is good… too good
Follow 5 boards to fill your feed with pins you love.
Self curation becomes your filter bubble
As you follow boards and browse the web, both you and Pinterest are tailoring
the service to your personal tastes. It’s easy to trap ourselves in a "filter
bubble" and miss out on exposure to ideas that could challenge or broaden our
worldview. We end up seeing a very unbalanced subset of impulsive ideas in
For instance, after visiting websites selling camping equipment, you’re likely
to see Pins related to the outdoors and hiking gear.
Copyright Policy on Pinterest
Pinterest acts “in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other
applicable copyright laws.”
A separate Copyright Policy
describes: expectations of users to
respect intellectual property; that
Pinterest will disable or terminate
accounts of infringers; and that
Pinterest will respond
expeditiously to claims of
This page provides methods for
filing a copyright complaint, and
describes what to do if you receive
The plain language version insists
that you respect copyright but
does nothing to explain how to do
We cannot assume saving Pins
counts as a remix rather than a
breach of copyright, but ambiguity
persists, particularly as the default
behaviour is to save a Pin as
Suing Pinterest over repeat infringement
Photographer Christopher Boffoli has claimed copyright infringements in
effort to have over 5,000 posts of his photos used without either permission
Pinterest has failed to “completely remove his content”, “offered Boffoli a
settlement”, but he’s persisting with the lawsuit to fight for artists rights.
Prevent pinning from your site
Meta tag in the <head>
<meta name = "pinterest"
content = "nopin" description
= "Sorry, you can't save from
my website!" />
Specific “nopin” images
<img src = "foo.jpg" nopin =
More helpful for self regulating than the Copyright Policy
don't pin something without
linking to where you
Rules to Pin By (2010)
Attribute to your source
To pin, or not to pin?
Safe to pin
Your own content
From sites bearing a Pinterest
Public domain and Creative
Commons licenced works,
attributing as necessary.
Pins “Uploaded by user” if you are
certain the uploader is the owner.
Assume you do not have permission
to pin content or repin unless
evidence suggests otherwise.
When unsure, ask for permission to
use the content.
Do not pin bad content.
I hope this has been a useful
introduction to Pinterest’s new Terms of
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Pinterest. (n.d.-a). Copyright. Retrieved 21 October 2016, from
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