My Thoughts on Pinterest's New Terms

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Once upon a time, I referred to my Pinterest conundrum as Bob. In the last week as people have asked me what I thought of the new Terms of Service going live April 6, I sat frustrated, looking at my new, play-by-the-rules pin boards beginning to take shape. What about Bob?

I've spent a lot of time sourcing and deleting pins -- over a thousand -- to fit their terms. Some things I didn’t want anymore but sourced because I knew they had the right to hold onto them forever. Even if I deleted them. The least I could do was get the correct URLs attached. (This changes slightly in the new TOS. There was a pin I once saw that said time well spent isn’t wasted? Oh, whatever.)

I thought I could say, “Look at these boards. Proof you can have fun and gather cool stuff and play by the rules. If you follow their rules you’re OK.” *

Except the rules are about to change.

I’m happy to see they’re worried about the negative/harmful pins. I’m happy to see some language has changed. I never thought they were going to be making products to sell from content, but glad they’re clearing that up.

But they aren’t taking down any of the third-party sites that are monetizing while misusing the PinIt! button or the TOS.

They say they know Printerest exists but aren’t stopping them. This “not getting involved” doesn’t sit well with me.

It reminds me of these words by Desmond Tutu:

If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

There’s nothing wrong with Pinterest making money. They should monetize off content they have permission to use.

And here’s where the pinner comes in. You. Me. President Obama. We’re accountable for hurting anyone as a result of a pin. Not Pinterest. We’re the ones placing the content there.

Here are simple rules. Easy ones.

Delete pins that give you even the slightest fluttering of butterflies in your stomach that they don’t fit those terms.

Know that what you pin Pinterest has certain rights to. Read the terms of service and understand what those rights are. Know that the PinIt button is sometimes used improperly. There are Instagram apps that allow pinning -- not OK. There are blogs letting you pin images they don’t own. A friend wrote me recently that most dating sites are pinnable. Users can't add the code. That's not right.

Proceed with caution unless you have permission or the copyright.

Like the Kate Moss meme “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels feels” that has made the Pinterest rounds (and will soon be taken down thanks to the new TOS, which like Tumblr bans pro-eating disorder content), consider this a rule to pin by:

“Nothing is worth pinning that might hurt someone else.”

Most of us live our lives by that concept, right?

I’m torn. Not because I can’t part with my pin boards but because I have this crazy idea that people would play by the rules if they understood them. That we can make Pinterest better by communicating what is pinnable and why.

Rather than walk away, and say this is unfixable, I’d love the chance to try fixing it. I’m not good at quitting things when I know they could get better.

Looking away when someone is hurt and saying you don’t want to get involved is getting involved.

I have to consider whether I’ll terminate my account on April 6. I’m well aware of the elephant and I want to help the mouse. But I wonder if staying and playing fair does more to help the mouse than walking away.

Please keep using Pinterest if you’ll do so responsibly.

You can no longer say you don’t know better.

You got the email like everyone else.

*Disclaimer: I can’t be certain that every last pin is perfect though I really think I did well. But always double check a pin, even mine.

A few good reads:

Here’s a good interview with the founder of Getty Images. It gives you an idea of the way companies are planning to handle this. If Pinterest begins to profit, users will face consequences.

And I just read this, by the now famous photographer/attorney who blogged about taking down her pins and then receiving a phone call from Ben Silbermann - she isn’t too happy about these new Terms either.

Photo Credit: Pushpins via Shutterstock.

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