Pinterest – not the innocent pastime you may think

I’ve had the post below sitting in Draft for a little while, but the last couple of days I’ve come across some things which finally made me post it. The original post was some suggestions for how you can use Pinterest better – and you can read that below if you like, but first let’s just talk a bit about how Pinterest may not be so great.

Actually, I’d really suggest strongly encourage you to go and read this article: Is Pinterest a Haven for Copyright Violations? {via @SisterDiane} which lays it out very well and may cause some concern (rightly so, in my opinion). But in a few sentences:

Pinterest saves a full size copy of the images pinned. The copy on Pinterest may compete with the original for search attention on Google et al.

Pinterest’s own Terms of use say that you can only pin images if you have the copyright holder’s permission to do so. I think we all know that that rarely happens and that could potentially get you into trouble!

The ToU also say that you give Pinterest permission to sell the images you pin. Images you probably do not have permission to pin in the first place!

If you pin an image from Amazon, say of a book or cd, if the link you pin to the image doesn’t have an Amazon affiliate link, then Pinterest will attach their own, meaning they can make money from your pin!

Just those things are bad already, please read the article to read it in more detail! I’m seriously considering not using Pinterest anymore. It could be a really great tool, but they need to seriously rethink the whole thing.

The things already mentioned are bad. And the pinning of uncredited images, which is really bad too. The Link With Love campaign is trying to address this. If you’re also worried about Pinterest allowing uncredited pins, then  you should check out Link With Love. Go to this post and then pin the image (don’t pin the image from my blog post) with the proper permalink on Link With Love, this will hopefully get Pinterest’s attention. Especially if loads of us do it!

If you do love using Pinterest (and I know enough people who say they are addicted to it!), then there are some things you can do to make your pins more respectful of other people’s creations (yes, a photo or illustration is a creation too, even if it’s just an image on the internet) and make the pins more useful to you.

Ways to use Pinterest in a fairer way. After the jump!

Pin better for your own sake
– if you pin a particular image because you want to be able to go back to a tutorial at a later time a direct, specific link to that post, called a permalink, is the only thing which will make that pin of any use.

You may find an image on but if you link to that URL via Pinterest, it may be difficult or even impossible to find that post again. So for this reason you need the permalink.

Always use permalinks on Pinterest! Always use permalinks on Pinterest!

For example, let’s say you’ve been looking through my posts with tutorials and you come across this tutorial I made for making crochet bunting. And you want to pin that. Take a look at the two images. The one on the left has a lot of letter and numbers in the address (URL), a permalink rarely looks like that. So you don’t want to pin the image from this page. It would be a bit like hard work to actually find the post again!

Instead, click on the title of the post so you have the actual link in the address bar. Look at the image on the right: this is the link which should go with that image. It’s a fairly straightforward link, you can see what it means: blog/year/month/post title.

It’s a bit like your postal address, but in reverse order, from less specific (blog/country) all the way to very exact (your name/blog post title).

Don’t repin – or atleast check before repinning
Even if you’re feeling lazy. Even if you think your Pinterest buddies might get offended if you don’t repin their pin and give them “credit” for a great find. It should already be obvious that unless we link an image to it’s proper source, then we’re just making things worse. So always click through to the source to check that it is indeed linked properly. Just because something is linked to a blog, doesn’t mean that that blogger is the originator of the image.

Use Pinterest better Use Pinterest better

Here’s an example. On the left is an image that gets pinned quite a bit and linked to one of my posts. Which is where the people found it. I didn’t take the photo, I simply posted it (with permission and links back!) to show how Michelle from Scissor Quirk had used that crochet bunting tutorial to make a super cute one with hearts on.

So my blog gets the “Pinterest credit” because people don’t read things properly and don’t take the time to click on links. What if something happened to my blog and the post disappeared? Then the pins of the cute heart bunting would be useless because people hadn’t bothered linking to the original source.

You need to pin better for the sake of the creator of the image
It’s nice for people to have their images pinned. To a degree. And there are images you should probably stay clear of pinning. Like professional photographers or illustrators. With sites like Pinterest it may be too much to ask people to ask every copyright owner for permission to pin, so atleast we can make sure that we do our very best to credit them.

You need to link images to their original source, to the one who has copyright of the image. That’s the least we can do if we choose to share their content with others, without asking. It’s difficult, if not pretty much impossible to stop people from sharing images found on the internet. Once you put something online it’s “fair game”.

With Pinterest and similar sites, at least we should do our best to make sure that the images are linked to their source. So please try to keep this in mind when you pin. It will also make your pinning better if you describe your pins properly. “Pretty” doesn’t really say much. “Pretty crochet blanket tutorial” is a lot better. And more interesting. Preferably also put the title of the blog or site where you found the image in the description too.

In essence: be a bit a lot more thoughtful of what and how you pin things. Visit the original site. Use it to actually explore new things instead of just quickly repinning images which you may have forgotten again in 10 minutes. And respect the people who put the images out there.

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