From SI410
Jump to: navigation, search
Back • ↑Topics • ↑Categories

Pinterest Official Logo [1]
Type Visual discovery and collection
Launch Date 2010 [1]
Status Active
Product Line Social Networking Service
Platform Cloud Service, iOS, Android
interest is a website and mobile application that allows users to visually share and save ideas. Pinterest was founded as a Silicon Valley start-up [2] by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp in 2009. [3] With over 150 million active users (as of October of 2016)[4], the platform is essentially a virtual vision board, where users can create and manage image collections of photos and other media content, often referred to as "pins." These pins are aggregated into groups called boards, which are determined by the individual users based on their various interests. Pinterest allows its users to both encounter and share photos and ideas of their favorite styles, tastes, and interests. As a medium, it relies heavily on interaction between users. Pinterest serves as a platform to find inspiration and motivation; suggested pins are given by a Pinterest algorithm and determined by user behavior and searches. Pinterest aims at users interested in finding new and creative ideas for different projects. It holds a strong culture of projects that are DIY. Ethical concerns of copyright and censorship have been prevalent due to the sharing of information between users.


Pinterest Co-founders: Paul Sciarra, Ben Silbermann, and Evan Sharp

Paul Sciarra left his job at a venture capital firm, Radius Ventures, in New York, in 2008 and Ben Silbermann left his job at customer service and data entry at Google in California. The college friends came together to brainstorm ideas for a startup. The two started developing a product called Tote, a catalog for one's phone but struggled to gain necessary funds after the recession. After securing investors, the entrepreneurs turned away from Tote and began to work on Pinterest, going on to recruit Evan Sharp as another co-founder. [5] The three did not find immediate success with it. Pinterest’s initial slow growth concerned the trio, but only a year later, the site skyrocketed to success as it experienced wild growth. Created out of a childhood love to collect things from insects to stamps, Pinterest was built to let people continue their collections online.[6]

Pinterest began as an exclusive website requiring an invitation to join and participate. In August 2012, Pinterest opened up to the public allowing anyone to sign up for an account and be a user.[7]


Pinterest became the fastest site ever to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark when data reported from comScore indicated the site had 11.7 million unique U.S. visitors on a monthly basis.[8] Since early 2012, the number of Pinterest users to visit the site daily has increased 145%.[9] According to new data from social media marketer, Tamba, the number of daily unique visitors of Pinterest doubled in just two months from 2 million in January 2012 to 4 million in March 2012.[10]

According to the Los Angeles Times, July of 2012 astonishingly saw over 29 million weekly visits to the site, over a 2183% increase from the previous year of 1.27 million weekly visits.[11] As of now with over 150 million users, Pinterest's CEO attributes this growth not to better algorithms or engineering, but to the work of better marketing. Silbermann still believes what was needed and is still needed is simply a better way to distribute Pinterest to users. When Pinterest first started, Silbermann went to many local boutiques and other events and found people who had similar interests to his own and promoted Pinterest as a tool for an idea and interest sharing. [12]

User Statistics

Pinterest caters to a variety of social groups. The average Pinterest users are ages 25 to 54, but a total of 67% of users fall under the age 40. [13] 40% of men who use the application are new users and contribute to 7% of the pins. Users predominately reside in the Midwest. [13]. In 2012, 80% of United States users were women. It maintained this trend; by 2017 81% of users were female. [13]


Since the launch of Pinterest, the company has raised millions from investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, FirstMark Capital, and Bessemer Venture Partners.[14] In October 2011, venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz gave Pinterest $27 million in funding that increased the value the social media site to $200 million.[15] Pinterest received a $100 million investment from a group led by Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc., further increasing the value of the company, bringing its total value to $1.5 billion.[16]


Users can browse any other users’ pins. Pinterest allows users to comment on or pin anything they desire, and visibility is not limited. On October 17, 2012, Pinterest announced that they had responded to the request for more privacy controls by adding new features. Now there is a flag icon on each user’s profile allowing anyone to block or report that individual’s profile for nudity or pornography, attacks on a group or individual, graphic violence, hateful speech or symbols, actively promotes self-harm, spam, or other. The block feature prevents users from the ability to follow each other’s boards and to repin and comment on one another’s pins. The report user feature alerts the Community team to evaluate the account that has been reported. [17]

Sample of a page


Pins: A pin is an image or video uploaded by the user, or taken from a website. A description can be added to the pin to explain or comment on if the purpose of the pin is not explicitly stated. If a pin is from an outside website, users can visit the website by clicking on the link located below each pin. There is direct user-to-user interaction when others “pin” the user's pictures. These pins allow the picture to appear on their own board. Pins represent the actual sharing of ideas between users. Without them, users would not be able to keep track of all of the ideas that they are fond of throughout the Pinterest application. Pinning is essentially a bookmark tool. It allows the user to refer back to a post at any given time and are organized and distributed throughout boards labeled by the user.

Boards: Pinboards are unique to each user’s page. Users can create and freely name as many boards as they desire by clicking the “Add” button on the navigation bar located on the top right. A pinboard categorizes pins properly onto specific boards in order to help others find the user's pins. These boards can be followed by anyone (depending on settings) and it enables the user to find their ideas in an efficient way when they actually are thinking about “trying” them. Within each board is an organized feed of all of the pins. It is easiest to process the pins if they are systematized and relatable to each other. The board can help the user specify the exact pin they would like to “try” out.

  • Secret Boards: From late 2012, Pinterest introduced a new type of board which users can mark as 'Secret.' Secret boards are not shared with followers and cannot be accessed by the public.

Comments: Users can add comments to pins on their own boards or others' boards, even if the users do not follow on another. A comment can be added by clicking on the pin and typing in the comment box, or by hovering over the picture of the pin and clicking on "Comment." Comments also allow for positive feedback and provide a user with motivation to finding even more pins that can relate themselves to other Pinterest users.

Follow: Users can follow other Pinterest members. There is the option to follow all of their boards or individual boards that the user likes. Friends on Pinterest can be easily found through connecting to Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts.

Bookmarklet: This “Pin it” button can be added to a browser’s bookmarks bar. Pinterest suggests this feature be installed due to its result of simplistic and easy pinning. Users can click on "bookmark" to open a menu from which one can pick the image they want to pin.

Notifications: Pinterest came out with new features that allow the user to filter their feed even more than they do. Pinterest interrupts a user’s day with posts that appeal to them. This creates constant connectivity between the Pinterest community and allows for the users to constantly be thinking of the pins they want to try.

Filters': The people behind Pinterest created an algorithm that could filter a search query.

Buying/Selling': Not only can users buy and sell products directly on Pinterest, but Pinterest is also used as an advertising website for items that are sold in stores. As a result, users may seek them out in the stores after pinning the product on Pinterest.

Trending': The trending page allows the user to gain exposure to topics that they may not be following, but that majority of users are interested in at the moment. However, even though the posts below the most popular hashtags are trending, they are still filtered based on the user’s preferences. Posts become trending especially when users “try” them and love them. While this doesn’t necessarily maximize the number of new ideas being “tried” in the real world, it creates a desire for users to share their experiences of trying the same ideas by commenting and having conversations with other pinners on the post.



Pinning is the process of collecting pins and posting them and categorizing them onto boards. Members can pin any image from any website. There are three ways to pin.

  1. Upload an image to Pinterest straight from a file on the computer by clicking the “Add” button. This is a great option to share personal pictures, ones that are not already hosted on the web.
  2. If a user stumbles upon an image found on another site, like a blog, rather than saving the image to one’s computer, and re-uploading it to Pinterest, click the “Pin It” button that is installed. Clicking the “Pin It” button gives users the option to pin any of the images embedded on the webpage that they are currently visiting. The URL of the original source of the images are automatically set into the link.
  3. “Repin” something that is already pinned. Browsing makes pinning simple. If one comes across an image of a photo they like on another's board, one has the option to “repin” or “like” it, which gives the owner of the original content the option to share the likes, without having them pinned on their board. This like will be added to the “likes” section of one's profile. Choosing “repin” cues the user to classify the pin to one of the user’s specific boards.

It is an online bridge between the web and the real world. The site’s popularity is due to its simplicity. In general, it is all about ‘pinning’ things one finds interesting across the web and saving them in any ‘Board’ they like.

Pinterest Mobile Applications

Pinterest Mobile Apps

Pinterest has created apps for iPhone, iPad and Android that are available to download on the Pinterest website. The goal of these apps is to allow users to take Pinterest anywhere, so that users can pin, discover, and access information on the go.[18] Pinterest launched the iPhone app and Pinterest Mobile in September 2011 and in May 2012, they redesigned and updated the app.[19] On August 14, 2012, Pinterest announced that an iPad app and Android app is now developed and available for download.[20]

These apps allow users to do almost everything capable of the Pinterest website. The app displays easy and accessible icons for browsing pins of people that users are following, exploring various pins from various categories, capturing pictures and instantly pinning them, news with the user’s recent activity, and profile displaying pints, boards, likes, the number of followers, and people followed.

Pinterest founder Ben Silberman recently said that the transition to phones has been one of the biggest ways the company has changed. It started out as a website and now about 80% of its usage is by phone, something he could never have imagined five years ago[21].

Pinterest for Business

Many businesses use Pinterest as a marketing tool. They are able to use the site to increase awareness of their business and to monitor traffic by looking at the number of followers or engagement measures of likes, repins, and comments.[22] A number of companies such as Procter & Gamble, The Wall Street Journal, Land’s End, Etsy, Ebay, Zappos, and Whole Foods Market use the social media platform for exposure to a large audience, attract new followers, engage with existing followers, increase visits to their websites, and generate sales.[23][24] Pinterest is a great source for consumer insights, allowing businesses to understand their audience, and what they are discussing and sharing. Companies can check out their competition, and compare their products and services.[25] Many brands are using Pinterest as an advertising strategy in order to drive sales via images and displays.


Companies use Pinterest to promote their brands with contests and sweepstakes to improve user experience for their audience base. Companies like Honda, Kotex, Sephora, Gilt, AMC Theaters, and Victoria’s Secret have used Pinterest to connect with their audiences by offering giveaways. [26]

Contests allow brands to engage with consumers in a personal and cost-effective way as well as to help collect customer information, preferences, and feedback. The great majority of the above companies cater to women much more so than to men. Because of this, Pinterest, with its high percentage of users being women, was a successful and appropriate outlet for such promotions. With this, the collected consumer information, preferences, and feedback were for an appropriate population of the companies' markets.

Marketing Tools

PinReach Sign Up Site.

There are tools that have been developed after the quick popularity of Pinterest growth. These marketing tools provide users with ways to measure their efforts and make it simple to pin content to boards, share and track better on Pinterest. Businesses use Pinterest to their advantage as the site provides the insights that they need to measure and optimize their content and engagement efforts on Pinterest.[27]

  • PinReach provides insight and analytics to assist users to examine trends, and measure the success of the page. It allows users to see what their top five pins and boards are and provides the number of pins, boards, likes, followers, likes, repins, and comments.
  • Repinly is a site that analyzes Pinterest users and content providing insights on popular content for pins and boards, how users spend their time, and most followed users.[28]
  • PinPuff is a site that allows users to explore social influence. It calculates a score and gives the user the number on a scale of 1-100 that indicates a user’s “pinfluence” measuring popularity, influence, and activity. The site gives suggestions of other users collecting similar content. This number can be used for marketing strategy for businesses and startups.
  • Pin A Quote] allows users to easily pin any text found on the Internet.[29]
  • Reachli is an analytic tool that helps keep track of repins, and likes that pins are receiving. It has an easy-to-use dashboard interface for browsing and pinning. The site helps devise the best strategy for content to increase user’s sales and increase traffic.[30]
  • Pinspiration is an app developed for Pinterest users on Windows Phones.
  • Pintics provides the tools needed to manage activity and sales and help track and optimize their Pinterest traffic.
  • PinAlerts is a site that alerts users via email when someone pins an image from their website onto Pinterest.[31]
  • Pinalyzer is a service that suggests to users pins and people to follow based on analyzing the user’s followers and following people.
  • Pinwords allows a caption, description, or text to be added to an image instantly before it is pinned to Pinterest.
  • PinDown is an application which allows users to download multiple pictures at once from their Pinterest account.[32]


Pinterest Wins Best Startup


Some competitors of Pinterest include:

All of these sites are some variation of social service for photo-clipping, which allows users to capture, share, and organize anything on the web.

Ethical Concerns

Pinterest users are told to read and agree to the Terms of Use for the company before signing for their account on the website. The Terms of Use at Pinterest requires its members to “acknowledge and agree” sole responsibility for any content or products generated by themselves on the website or any of its affiliates[33]. Furthermore, regardless of whether the user is an individual or a business, the party that owns the Pinterest account also owns the content or products created on the site and its affiliates, also known as “Member Content”. This also applies to any sort of images stolen from other users; Pinterest clearly states in their Terms of Use that their Member Content must not misuse or appropriate content from a “third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights,” etc.

"You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application, and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.” – Pinterest, Terms of Use.

Copyright Issues

Due to its picture-based content and ability to replicate through sociotechnical processes such as “re-pinning,” Pinterest has experienced various copyright concerns since its founding. Members of the Pinterest community are unaware of copyright laws and trademark infringement possibilities in the content they post to their accounts. Pinterest’s social network model is based on users linking to any image found on the Internet, of which many are copyrighted. Since users pin texts or pictures onto their profiles without the permission of the copyright holder, this is an infringement of copyright law.

To combat copyright infringement, Pinterest has implemented their own Copyright Policy that is in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is provided in their Terms of Service. Under the Pinterest Copyright Policy, “Pinterest respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects its users to do the same.”[34] With the policy, at its discretion, Pinterest may disable or terminate accounts that are repeatedly charged with infringement issues. Pinterest also has a protocol employed for copyright owners who would like to report copyright infringement within Pinterest, which includes writing to Pinterest and identifying the copyrighted work and the subject who infringed the copyright. When Pinterest complies with a copyright complaint, the pin, and its content is removed from Pinterest.

Pinterest has attempted to comply with websites that do not want their content to appear on the site. They have implemented a "nopin" meta-tag that websites can put into their HTML codes that prevent users from pinning images that appear on that website. If a user tries to pin an image from a website that has the "nopin" meta-tag in place, the user will see a message that says "This site doesn't allow Pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!"[35]


The Pinterest website describes the process of picture content removal if a user receives an excessive amount of copyright infringement notices:

If you receive a notification that a Pin has been removed due a copyright complaint, it means that the Pin’s content has been deleted from Pinterest at the request of the content’s owner. If your account receives too many copyright complaints, you may lose the ability to Pin new content on Pinterest, and your account may be disabled completely.

In a scenario where the user was not posting copyrighted material but was still asked to remove their content, the scenario reflects censorship by Pinterest. With digital editing materials available to users, it is hard to decipher the origin of pictures and other online material. Thus, it is hard to say who originally created or posted pictures, and the removal of pictures that do not infringe upon copyright laws could be described as censorship.

Opponents believe stricter guidelines should be implemented with regards to properly citing or adding a source to the picture. Many pins have links attached to direct the viewer to the correct page, but if they have been screenshots or downloads there should be an option to add details regarding the origin of the picture.

Indirect censorship is an ethical issue commonly overlooking Pinterest. Due to algorithms and the limitations of search results, users may not see a pin, while it may show up in another user's search result. This indirectly censors some pins since they are unable to access it due to the user's past history and pins. Although it seems reasonable for the search engine to display pins that match the user's interest, it should be up to the user to choose whether or not they want to see all relevant pins.

Scams and Hacks

Some pins often redirect the user to a separate link, which is often a third party website, which makes this site susceptible to scams and hacks. Women make up a large demographic of Pinterest users, so they can be baited by titles such as "Free Makeup Giveaways" or "10 Tips to Lose Weight", and when the link is clicked, malware could be downloaded or another scam may be in progress. Pinterest does not have filters for these scams, but filtering posts may prove to be difficult as scam posts are made to look exactly like the legitimate websites, making it difficult to differentiate between real and fake. Pinterest has yet to take action to mitigate this harm by checking linked websites are credible.


PinDown is an application that allows users to download multiple images from their Pinterest boards and save them to their computer.[36] This product may promote the idea of copyright infringement, as they could download an image, and post it elsewhere. If the user did not actively search for the image to download it, they may be unaware of where the original photo originated from, and cannot give credit. Pinterest and PinDown may increase copyright infringement by Pinterest users, without them knowing it. Another concern is the idea that some may not want their work to be shared on Pinterest, but are not given the option as the number of members submitting is too great.

See Also

External Links


  1. About Pinterest: Press
  2. Forbes: Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, Co-founders, Pinterest
  3. Founders: A group of eclectic collectors
  4. Pinterest Has Reached a User Milestone
  5. Pinterest CEO: Here's How We Became The Web's Next Big Thing
  6. Meet Ben Silbermann
  7. Pinterest Finally Ditches Invitations, Now Lets Anyone Sign Up
  8. Pinterest Hits 10 Million U.S. Monthly Uniques Faster Than Any Standalone Site Ever
  9. This Is Everything You Need To Know About Pinterest
  10. Infographic Interest in Pinterest
  11. Pinterest, Instagram continues meteoric growth
  12. The Secret Behind Pinterest’s Growth Was Marketing, Not Engineering, Says CEO Ben Silbermann
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Pinterest by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts
  14. Pinterest pins down $100M in new funding$100m-in-new-funding/
  15. Pinterest valued at more than $1bn after raising $100m funding
  16. Pinterest Funding
  17. Announcing Blocking & More Controls
  18. Pinterest for iPhone
  19. Pinterest to Launch Android App at Google I/O 2012?
  20. Introducing Pinterest for Android, iPad and iPhone
  21. Tech Insider Ben Silbermann Interview
  22. 9 Businesses Using Pinterest Contests to Drive Traffic and Exposure
  23. Pinterest tightens copyright rules
  24. With Pinpointing, Zappos hooks up Pinterest with e-commerce
  25. Pinterest Contests and Sweeps, Turbocharged by Tech: This Holiday Season, Brands rely on Pinfluencer Promotions Platform to manage Holiday Promotions on Pinterest
  26. Kautz, Kelly. "Five Ways Pinterest Can Benefit Your Business" JPL(Retrieved 22 April 2017).
  27. Di Gallo. "Getting Insights Into Your Pinterest Efforts" Social Media Week (Retrieved 22 April 2017).
  28. [Pinterest "5 Tools to Help You Master Pinterest"]
  29. "Pinterest Terms of Service Get Updated"
  30. "13 Essential Tools to Help Pin, Share & Track Better on Pinterest"
  31. "8Tools for Marketers Using Pinterest"
  32. "Down for Pinterest"
  33. Exploring the Ethics of Pinterest
  34. Pinterest Copyright & Trademark
  35. Prevent saves to Pinterest from your site
  36. Download

(back to index)