Pinterest Terms of Service: More Simply Put

pinterest-iconI’ll start this blog post with a disclaimer: I love Pinterest.

Now, that we’ve gotten that out of the way. I’d like to share one of the many reasons I love Pinterest. No, it’s not all the amazing DIY projects I can look at, or the recipes I can be inspired by, or the wedding I can dream of… it’s the social networks ‘Terms of Service.”  Say, what?

I’m serious. After reading many of the major social networks Terms and Conditions, I was often left blurry-eyed and confused. What were they trying to say? Do I have a reason to be concerned about where my content is being shared or tracked? Or should I be checking my privacy settings more often? Well, on Pinterest navigating the Terms of Service was pretty easy. Actually it was “more simply put” literally.

In the screenshots below, you’ll see how the social network includes call-out boxes next to each service term, providing a more user-friendly explanation. Hallelujah!

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This is genius! Okay, maybe that’s giving Pinterest a little too much credit. But the truth of the matter is, why aren’t more social networks doing this? They really should be. In a matter of minutes, I was able to read through these terms and actually understand them.

That being said, it doesn’t mean all of the terms aren’t controversial. The social network came under fire a couple of years ago because of it’s copyright terms. In 2012, the social network decided to tweak it’s terms of service, as well as, made it easier for users to report copyright or trademark infringement. Now the policy reads as follows:

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It still puts the onus on users to not pin copyrighted materials. Which in a sense goes against the purpose of the platform. I mean the goal is to share content and view it easily. We all know how easy it is to pin and re-pin content. I think one way that users can protect themselves, and  how Pinterest can in turn protect itself, is to not initially pin copyrighted materials.

So, as a user I should not go onto a photographer’s website, find an image I like and take it upon myself to pin it on Pinterest for the world to see and re-pin time and time again. But, if that photographer has a business account with Pinterest and he/she pins their work, I am free to re-pin as I want. That seems reasonable, although I’m sure it doesn’t always happen.

Inevitably, new social platforms are going to have growing pains. Pinterest is not alone and won’t be the last to come under scrutiny, but similarly to Instagram after controversy erupted the company responded. Listening and responding to your audience is key to success for any social network.

My advice to anyone as addicted to Pinterest as I am: Stay away from pinning someone else’s work and you should be good to go. Happy Pinning!

 Do Pinterest’s Terms of Service concern you? Which social network do you think is nailing it when it comes to Terms and Conditions (in terms of being user-friendly)?

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4 thoughts on “Pinterest Terms of Service: More Simply Put

  1. Hi Laura,

    I love Pinterest as well and actually chose this platform for my own blog! I agree with you that it is quite the conundrum when it comes to making sure you don’t pin something that is copyrighted when the whole idea behind Pinterest is to pin things that you find online. A tip I also read about when doing my research is that even if they don’t pin the work originally, but if they have a “Pin It” button on their page, or a Pinterest button, you should feel free to pin an item with giving credit to who wrote it. For instance, if I pinned this blog post I would say something like, “Great copyright tips thanks to Laura Markowski” and that should also be a way to avoid getting in trouble. However, like you said, how often does this really happen? I am notorious for just repinning something cool that I find without even looking to check for the original content or anything. Whoops!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Amanda. I’m heading over to check your blog next! I totally forgot about the “pin it” buttons, but you make a good point. That feature makes it easy to share work, the catch is to still give the author or creator credit. I’ve seen many Pinterest captions that read something like “love this” or “I need this”. Well those people are often times sharing copyrighted information and not giving credit where it’s due. I think all of us are easily swayed by the ease of social networking, Pinterest specifically. We do need to hold ourselves accountable in some ways, even if it’s just being better informed about Terms and Conditions.

  3. Great post Laura! I was considering doing Pinterest for this assignment, but went with LinkedIn instead. I love the fact that they put it in simpler terms next to the legal jargon that most people don’t understand. Facebook did that as well, which I also liked, but Pinterest did it more effectively in my opinion. These are the best terms of service I’ve seen so far.

    I agree with your stance when it comes to copyrighted material. If the person who owns the copyright doesn’t want their material to be pinned, why did they put it on Pinterest in the first place? I stick to re-pinning things rather than creating brand new content, it’s safer.

    • I’m with you, Steven. I never pin new content, just repin content that already appears on the site. But now thinking about it, I need to be more careful with that in case someone else has originally pinned copyrighted content. I mainly follow brands, not individuals, so hopefully most of the content I’m seeing is coming from those brands firsthand. I understand people not wanted their copyrighted content stolen, but it seems like more and more repins would translate to more and more publicity or attention. I would think for the most part it would be a good thing, especially for small businesses which may be looking to grow their audience.

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