Skip to content

Online Privacy and Why Pinterest Should "Binterested"

For once in my life I’m skeptical. And for you die-hard Pinterest fans, I hope you’ll bear with me as I explain my current disinterest in Pinterest.

I can’t get my sister-in-law to interact with me on Facebook. But she freaking LOVES Pinterest. And has been trying to get me to use it for a couple of months. And given the recent chatter on Social Media Today, I finally broke down this past Saturday and joined using my Facebook account to establish my Pinterest profile.

Over the course of the weekend, I noticed that I was receiving e-mails that “so and so” was now following me on Pinterest. At first I thought, WOW, I’m super popular. But then reality set in and I decided to see what was up. A quick call to my sister-in-law let me know that she received an e-mail that I was now following her on Pinterest and so she followed me back. My reaction? Wow, I never asked to follow you. In fact, I didn’t ask to follow anybody.

It turns out that when I used my Facebook account to create my profile, Pinterest accessed my personal information to automatically have me start following common connections. In my book, Pinterest broke a basic tenet of online privacy: to not invasively use my online information.

Connecting your Facebook account should either be an easier method for authentication (verifying identity) or to suggest friends to follow. I appreciate the ease of use that Pinterest is attempting to provide, but when it comes to deciding whom I follow—or not—that should be at my discretion, exercised manually. Additionally, while the Pinterest Privacy Disclosure does mention the use of personal information from Facebook to create a Pinterest account, it does not explicitly mention that it would be using that information to predetermine my followees. (You also have the option to establish your profile using your Twitter account, which does not trigger auto-follow, I’m told.)

A quick Google search shows me that other individuals have encountered this same issue:

“wow, Pinterest, really bad behavior you don’t make me automatically follow people without telling me just from signing up”
Adam Fick, Twitter

“The warning that I will give out about Pinterest is that they are not very good at maintaining your privacy when it comes to respecting your wishes about how much they share from your other social networking sites (you have to use Facebook to open an account).”
How to Unfollow People on Pinterest, Infobarrel

“I thought pinterest would be a cool way for me to categorize great content from webpages so I could stop emailing links to myself. I thought my page would be a nice blend of my and other nerds’ (whom I followed by choice) repositories of great info. As it turns out, I’m now following 78 women and 3 men against my will.”

“Pinterest has really bad privacy settings (or none) and I hate that. If you find a forum for pinning photos or links, that is private (like as private as an email account or something of that nature) let me know. I don’t like the automatic follow and following. I don’t like that I can’t link to articles, as well as, photos. I would like to use it as my own personal links library, not as another social media platform.”
So, let me tell you why I dislike Pinterest…and how to unfollow people on Pinterest, Josh’s Blog

In today’s world online privacy is critical. So here are some quick suggestions that I have for Pinterest:

  1. Use Facebook information to suggest friends to follow, but do not automatically follow them on my behalf.
  2. Create privacy settings as there currently are none. At a minimum, I should be able to create contributor groups and then establish individual viewing permissions for each of my boards for those groups.
  3. Establish a method that allows people to unfollow connections in bulk. Currently, you have to unfollow people individually.
  4. Err on the side of restricting information first and then allow the user to decide what information should be shared.

Online privacy is difficult to manage and I don’t envy budding social networks like Pinterest because they have many factors to consider. The relation between privacy and a person’s social network is multi-faceted. In certain occasions we want information about ourselves to be known only by a small circle of close friends, and not by strangers. In other instances, we are willing to reveal personal information to anonymous strangers, but not to those who know us better. (Information Revelation and Privacy in Online Networks, Carnegie Mellon University)

This is a painful lesson that Facebook learned: the importance of user-controlled privacy settings. Many people have voiced frustration as Facebook has released new versions. But the value in what they’ve done is that they’ve become the only site that allows you to personalize who and what people see all the way down to the individual news items or even individual photos in your albums. It’s been worth the pain for me.

It is absolutely not my intent to lessen the current excitement and chatter Pinterest has been generating, or the value that it introduces to the social networking community. But I think it’s important to call out the importance of online privacy. And please, don’t get me wrong. I’m still really excited about the possibilities of Pinterest. But, unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to really try it out because I’m currently in the tedious process of unfollowing people.. one by one.

For a social media geek you could say that I don’t necessarily adhere to traditional views on privacy. I say this because I’m “out there.” EVERYWHERE. In fact, when I usually bring up online privacy, most people who know me have a “YOU are talking about privacy??” reaction. But here’s the thing. I care about online privacy because I’m so out there and it’s critical that I have the ability to personalize and control what information I share and with whom I share it.

I’m interested in knowing if anyone else had a similar experience? And I’m also interested in collecting more online privacy control suggestions for Pinterest from those people who have actively been using it. Please feel free to post your comments below.




51 thoughts on “Online Privacy and Why Pinterest Should "Binterested"”

  1. Moreover, when people are able to overcome their anxiety,
    their despondency disappears as well. Generally individuals are given a couple of different and usually conflicting medicinal drugs to
    manage the symptoms. Hence, the moment that you feel and observe a impending panic
    attack driving your car then you have to immediately pull
    over the side road and stop the car to avoid disaster and placing
    your life, and the life of your passengers, at risk.

  2. Pingback: 292 Pinterest Posts Worth Reading | Straight North Internet Marketing Blog

  3. Winix Plasmawave Wac 6300

    Hi just came upon your website from Google after I typed in, “Online Privacy and Why Pinterest Should “Binterested”” or something similar (can’t quite remember exactly). Anyways, I’m delighted I found it simply because your subject material is exactly what I’m searching for (writing a college paper) and I hope you don’t mind if
    I gather some information from here and I will of course credit
    you as the reference. Many thanks.

  4. Hey there would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different internet browsers
    and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most. Can you suggest a good internet hosting provider at a honest price?

    Thank you, I appreciate it!

  5. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I really enjoyed
    reading it, you may be a great author. I will make sure to bookmark your
    blog and will come back in the future. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue
    your great writing, have a nice weekend!

  6. Pingback: Pinterest and Your Privacy | LOHAD - random rumblings on marketing and more

  7. I had to delete my pinterest account; one I did not have for very long. A stranger started following all my pins and boards. Of course when that happened I wondered who she was and went to her page. I found boards that contained very disturbing sexual images. Of course, I did not want to be associated with her in any way. It was then that I found out I had no privacy controls whatsoever. I wanted to block her, but could not.

    I simply wanted to use pinterest to keep track of my gardening interests. I loved it for this. Yet, here I was connected to someone who uses pinterest for something very different. And I had no right to remove her from following me.

    Bad news pinterest.

  8. I have actually thought about this a lot lately with people crying about privacy all over the internet. Then turning right around and posting all kinds of private information on the net. Its a free service for crying out loud what did you expect they were going to do with the information? Now with that being said, there was a lesson to learn when Facebook and Google had to change their privacy terms and conditions and this new network should implement privacy controls in their system, if anything just to avoid all the negative people who only use it to complain about it.

    1. Your point is well taken. However, my issue is that there are no OPTIONS to control what you display and to whom you display it. I think if Facebook had approached online privacy using your simple solution then it never would have grown as a community the way it is today. For example, I receive an e-mail that includes 300 recipients. But does that mean I want to automatically reply-all to all 300 of those recipients? No. It’s nice to have the ability to pick and choose who I reply to or communicate with. Likewise for my participation in online communities.

Comments are closed.

Contact Us