March 28, 2012

Operation Quit Pinterest : Abort! Abort!

     Gentle readers, you know I love me some Pinterest. And, web-savvy intellectuals you all are, you probably are also aware of the recent controversy-bordering-on-public-uproar regarding Pinterest's terms of service. If you're not, you can either click these links for three well-written, thought-provoking articles on the topic from Huff Post, Scientific American, and photographer Kirsten Kowalski, OR (and this is obviously the better choice) you can continue reading here and find out how the whole 'To Pin or Not To Pin' movement has affected ME.
    Confessedly, I have been hooked on Pinterest from my first login, and I never thought much about the how or why of its existence. It seemed so obvious. Pinterest is pretty. Even if people Pin ugly things, somehow Pinterest remains pretty. And functional and distinctive and clean...all the aesthetic adjectives I love. I signed up, clicked that 'I agree' box on the terms of service without bothering to read them because, seriously, who does? and stayed up way too late Pinning all the pretty things.
     I soon recognized the importance of Pinning from the original source (also from the permalink of a blog post rather than the home page of the blog) and tried to always do so. Otherwise, how can anyone find the original designer/creator of an image? (For example, it just took me over half an hour of research to discover the origins of the 'Pin All the Things' comic above--the very funny blog Hyperbole and a Half--and still  I could not post the comic from its original source because no one pinned it from its permalink source code. So annoying!) I never Pinned too many of my own creations or images, as per the (late) Pinterest Rules of Etiquette, and I never said anything mean about anyone else's Pins. In other words, I was a good little Pinner. And Pinterest was good to me. It entertained, it drove traffic here, to my little corner of the blogosphere, it replaced all my cookbooks, and it made me feel all hip and trendy and in the know all at the same time.
     But when I woke up one morning last week, Brian was deeply engrossed in an article he told me I wasn't going to like. I had to read it of course; I can't ignore opportunities to turn my nose up in disgust. But he was right. I didn't like it.
     The article was another blog post from Scientific American. And it laid out in front of my face all the ugly details of the Pinterest terms of service that I (and so many others) had not bothered to read. Like the sentence that said Pinterest owned exclusive rights to copy, reproduce and sell anything I Pinned, without permission, royalties, or even credit given to the original creator/artist, even if I was Pinning a work that wasn't mine and, therefore, I had no right to relinquish the copyright in the first place. That was the ugliest sentence of all. Copyright is a touchy issue with me and I am a fierce protector of intellectual property rights. If I make it, I think of it, sew it, draw it, design it, write it, photograph it, sing it, film it, etc., then I want the credit. And I want the cash. How could I go on using Pinterest, knowingly giving away other artists' work when I don't even burn CDs or DVDs because that is so obviously wrong?  How many artists had I compromised by Pinning their images, thinking I was helping to promote their art? I had to ask the question Kalliope Monoyios was asking: Did Pinterest exist simply as a means to dupe the public into amassing a giant library of images for the use and monetary gain of a powerful corporation? I made up my mind to quit Pinterest, and blog about it, thereby inspiring 2.5 other people to also quit.
     You astute readers may have noticed, however, that this post is titled Operation Quit Pinterest: Abort! Abort! Because a few mornings later I woke up to this lovely email in my inbox:

     I allowed myself a little pajama-clad dance of joy before stopping to this enough? Do I know enough about what this email is really saying to trust in Pinterest once again? What are the real intentions behind the legal turns of phrase? By accepting this email at face value am I, essentially, just checking that 'I agree' box without understanding what I am agreeing to one more time?
     And that's where I am now. I have, hesitantly and carefully Pinned a very few things in the last couple of days, but I can't seem to muster the same Pin All the Things enthusiasm I used to own with geeky pride. Not yet, anyway. I have some more research (including pondering Glendon Mellow's followup article for Scientific American), and some tedious reading of terms of service to do. I guess Operation Quit Pinterest is not so much aborted as it is put on standby...I'll let you know, blogland. I'll let all 2.5 of you know.

What are your thoughts on the Pinning or lack thereof?



  1. oh dear- I had never read that lovely sentence (ugh!) either. I got the email and thought, what??! they can SELL stuff! Please keep us posted on links you may see- I make it 3.5 people who are interested to know :) Thanks!!

  2. Right after the hoopla began I sat down and thought about what Pinterest really is. Then I started trying to go back and repin my favorite pins and make sure I had dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts. I became overwhelmed. Then I erased all of my boards. I went back one day and thought, okay start from ground zero and begin again. I never got one thing pinned because it took me so long to try to pin down the info on one thing and then when I did it led back to a blog that clearly said all of it's stuff belonged to the blogger. And then the same blog invited people to Pin their stuff on Pinterest. Which way was it? I then signed out and never went back.
    I will not be using Pinterest any more.

  3. I have felt many of the same things. When I first found Pinterest, I thought I might need a pintervention to get me away. And, like you, I was disgusted when I realized what their terms actually were. Admittedly, I still pin though it is not as much as it was.

    I must also say, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people don't pin from the original source. SUPER annoying.

    Happy pinning.

  4. I just joined pinterest, and after day one I've been debating over if I should leave it or stay. Thanks for the info :)

  5. I adore Hyperbole and a Half! So incredibly hilarious! And probably the reason you couldn't find that cartoon on her site is because it appears that somebody filched her drawing to put in their cartoon... You know, speaking of copyright issues and all. ;)

    As for Pinterest.. I have different issues. (though I had heard all the hoopla copyright controversy earlier) It is a lovely place, but I don't know... too public. I feel pressure to 'follow' all these people that I personally like, but may or may not have the same tastes as. But if I stop following them... well, rude. I'm really bored of all of the same 'miracle' homemade cleaning solution stuff that cruds it all up. Perhaps there is a way to clean it up without offending others, and I'm just too green at Pintrest to know how.

  6. Thanks for reading our articles on Scientific American! The new Pinterest Terms of Service take effect on April 6th. If they stay as they appear now, I'll likely re-populate my own boards, for what my 2 cents is worth.

    There's a lot to like about Pinterest. The argument that their ToS was standard though was pretty sneaky of them: none of the other big social media playas said stuff like that.

    If you or your readers Amber ever want a quick way to know how to find the original creator of an image, try Google Reverse Image Search: fast, free, easy, and usually finds the right creator pretty quickly.

  7. Tips and 2 cents (or any metaphorical monetary contribution) always welcome! I, too, think I will continue Pinning whilst keeping a wary eye on those pesky terms. Thanks for reading and commenting, Glendon.