Why I like Pinterest and why you should too

New terms of service from the many and varied sites and feeds we’re all subscribed to are a regular occurrence. Apple, for example, routinely updates its Ts & Cs. You haven’t read them, nor have I. Pages and pages of jargon-heavy legal terminology that, let’s face it, aren’t going to stand between you and your iTunes account for any longer than it takes to blithely scroll down and tick the “accept” box.
Of all the online too-ings and fro-ings I’m signed up to, the latest to update its terms is Pinterest.
Ah… Pinterest. Admitting to using Pinterest is a tricky business. Some people enjoy it. Some are still valiantly looking for the crock of doo-dah at the end of the “how brands can maximise their oopmpah using Pinterest” rainbow. And others will just sneer at you.
But I like Pinterest.
There, I’ve said it.
Unlike blogging, tweeting and jibbing about on Facebook, Pinterest is a wholly-visual medium where you get to interact (in a very limited way) with a bunch of strangers. A bit like Chat Roulette but without the promise of having video-phone sex with someone else’s bored wife.
One of the best things about social media is the exchange of ideas, opinions and information from sources and individuals you might not otherwise have encountered.
But one of the worst things is the exchange of ideas, opinions and information from sources and individuals you might not otherwise have encountered, and in many cases wish you never had.
When asked a few months ago why I liked Pinterest I said I liked the lack of discourse with other users. I also like the visual aspect of it. Not just because I can’t get enough of looking at pics of cupcakes. But because the written form isn’t for everyone. Being able to share images of things you like with an online community is – and here I risk sounding like a colossal smunt* – a great example of the democratising nature of social media.
I find someone’s half-baked opinion, or massively dull world view far less irritating when it manifests as a image than as a tweet infected with bad grammar and insufficient thinking.
I regularly get emails, tweets and DMs from people who read stuff on this blog and then say to me “oh, I could never do that. I can’t write.”
True, most people can’t express their thoughts and opinions as clearly and, dare I say entertainingly, in writing as they might be able to when speaking. I’m not sure that means they shouldn’t have any form of outlet, though.
A lot of what I see on Pinterest is not very different from retweeting or sharing links to articles other people have written. Neither of which are creative exercises, yet they rarely come in for much criticism.
It’s not all kittens, cupcakes and wedding dresses on Pinterest either. In fact, I see more pics of cats and cakes shared via twitter. And don’t be fooled by the whole “it’s a mummy-blogger thing with a prevailing female wind” schtick.
Two things… 1) so what if that’s the case; 2) that’s not the case.
Within two weeks of being on Pinterest I was carefully unfollowing users who were pinning porno. Not the soft kind. There’s a time and a place for most things but I don’t really ever want to see some fat German bloke’s favourite stills of people having sex.
Like all things social, if you pick the right people to follow Pinterest can be interesting and funny. Sad how many people I’ve seen on twitter writing Pinterest off because they aren’t enjoying the experience. It’s as though they’ve forgotten what it is to put time and effort in to developing your networks.
But let’s not forget the copyright stick that many people have sought to beat Pinterest with. I can only imagine these people have only started using the internet very very recently. Either that or they have very very selective memories.
Stealing other people’s content is bad. Illegal even. But it didn’t start with Pinterest and it won’t end with criticism of Pinterest either.
OK, so some lawyer or other closed their Pinterest account because it all looked wrong to them.
Massive so what alert…
Get a grip people. There’s no Father Christmas, there’s no Tooth Fairy and lawyers get things wrong sometimes. Maybe those people placing so much importance in this lawyer’s actions have never actually had to deal with lawyers in a professional capacity.
As an interesting comparison, I haven’t seen Soundcloud, for example, come in for the same kind of criticism. Maybe that’s because music, like writing, is deemed a worthy and creative exercise. Whereas sharing images of the things you like is something it’s ok for the twitterati to look down on.
Funny thing, looking down on people. I’ve almost always found myself looking down more on those who do the looking down.
But the thing I really like about Pinterest is the approach they took a few days ago to updating their terms of service. They issued an email written in very accessible, non-legal language, explaining there had been a change. There was a summary of some of the changes and a link to the terms in full, which the recipient of the email is encouraged to read.
I think this compares very favourably with the likes of Google, Facebook and Apple who could do a lot worse than start talking to their users and customers like human beings again, rather than treating us like assets.
Pinterest, like every other shop in the social media mall, is far from perfect. But it is clear to me that unlike many others they are listening to naysayers and at least attempting to correct the course they’re on. There’s a lack of arrogance in that approach that I wouldn’t mind seeing go viral.

* – yes, I invented a word… smunt.

Pinterest’s updated terms of service

If you’re not a Pinterest user, you won’t have received the email regarding their new terms of service. You might not care. But if you do, here’s the email. I think more organisations should send emails like this when updating their terms.

Note: the Pinterest team have addressed two issues in particular that have led to criticism of their platform – selling users’ content, and policing copyright infringement.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been working on an update to our Terms. When we first launched Pinterest, we used a standard set of Terms. We think that the updated Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy, and Privacy Policy are easier to understand and better reflect the direction our company is headed in the future. We’d encourage you to read these changes in their entirety, but we thought there were a few changes worth noting.
Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.
We updated our Acceptable Use Policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.
We released simpler tools for anyone to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements.
Finally, we added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards.
We think these changes are important and we encourage you to review the new documents here. These terms will go into effect for all users on April 6, 2012.
Like everything at Pinterest, these updates are a work in progress that we will continue to improve upon. We’re working hard to make Pinterest the best place for you to find inspiration from people who share your interest. We’ve gotten a lot of help from our community as we’ve crafted these Terms.

Ben & the Pinterest Team

Social media has not evolved

Any discussion of the evolution of social media misses the point. It’s the evolution of the user that has been the biggest change in the last three years.

First it was “what is the point?”

Now it’s “we must find the point!”

That’s not a technology thing. That’s people realising the potential that (some but not all) social media platforms have and trying to be among the first to exploit that potential.

The change was slow at first. As is often the case.

Googleplus was the first major new platform that had brand managers and marketers rushing around frantically. Each time Facebook makes a change you see the same thing.  That’s to say, I don’t remember the same amount of marcoms clamour around Quora.

But it’s happening with new kids on the social block now in a way that didn’t happen before.

Pinterest and Percolate are two such examples.

Yes, there are people asking “what *is* the point?” of these platforms.  But increasingly there are people investigating their potential use in a brand advocacy manner.