Based on its visual nature, defamation is less common on Pinterest than on other top social media websites. Pinterest – the online “pinboard” website on which users virtually bookmark content on their own boards and explore others’ pins and boards – is ranked number 16 by Alexa Internet in its list of top U.S. websites and 37th globally.
However, Pinterest is often the chosen forum (or one of them) for bad actors to wrongfully initiate harassment or other cyberbullying campaigns.
In its Acceptable Use Policy, Pinterest explicitly prohibits certain harmful or otherwise inappropriate content such as any material attacking or harassing nonpublic individuals. More generally, the policy also reads: “We may remove anything for any reason, including if we think it goes against any of these rules or our Terms of Service.”
Other popular social media websites have similar policies, but many are resistant to enforce many of them (afraid of restricting speech, among other reasons) – even when someone is clearly being harmed, including in instances of internet defamation or other clear cyber harassment.
Pinterest, however has shown a willingness to work with those reporting potential policy violations, striving to ensure that harmful content does not exist on its website.
Reporting Inappropriate Content
In general, victims of harassment or others experiencing or seeing bad or otherwise inappropriate content – whether a pin, a comment, or a message – should simply report it through the Pinterest website.
To report a pin, for example, Pinterest lays out a five-step process.
- Click into the Pin
- Click the flag at the bottom of the Pin
- Pick the appropriate report type, then click Next
- Pick the reason for your report, then Report Pin
- Click Done
After reporting a Pin, a member of the Pinterest Help team will contact the submitting party and begin a dialogue in order to work to resolve his or her problem.
By way of example, if someone is being harassed by another party wrongfully impersonating them, Pinterest might ask the reporting party that more information be provided including 1) the URL for the Pinterest profile in question; 2) the real profile, if one exists; and 3) and other information used to verify his or her identity – whether a social media profile or even an ID such a driver’s license.
Pinterest will then review the content and other submitted information and will likely produce a response within a couple days. This is in welcome contrast to many websites that take weeks to evaluate complaints.
Should Pinterest opt to remove the content, the harmed party will want to check the relevant search engine results, such as for Google (including Google Images) and Bing. If the removed Pinterest content still appears in the search results, the outdated URLs can be submitted to Google and Bing for removal from the search results.
Additionally, should the victim of a Pinterest attack seek to pursue any legal claims against the attacker — beyond just having the bad content removed — he or she might wish to subpoena Pinterest in California.