Pinterest, a photo-sharing app often thought of as the last safe social media platform for children by the general public, made waves last month for issues on the site regarding child safety.
An NBC article released in early March highlighting the dangers of children being on the app became the first of many on the topic. In the original NBC article, author Jesslyn Cook discussed the story of a 9-year-old girl who was using Pinterest primarily because her mother was worried about the type of content she’d be exposed to on other social media platforms like TikTok.
Unfortunately for both the mother and daughter this was not the case and shortly after creating the account, the girl’s mother found that certain accounts were saving her daughter’s posts onto boards titled things like “sexy little girls,” and “guilty pleasures.” Along with these boards, the 9-year-old was also getting bombarded with direct messages from followers, commenting inappropriately on her body.
While Pinterest has always had certain safety measures in place, like only allowing teen users to receive direct messages from users they follow and requiring users to be at least 13-years-old. Since the NBC article was published they have begun to implement even more safety requirements. The company has stated that they have increased the number of human content moderators and are developing new features that allow users to report accounts for certain offenses.
Although this is a step in the right direction, the gesture did not appease senators Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal who wrote a letter to Pinterest after the NBC article was released. According to a follow-up article written by NBC, in the letter the senators wrote: “It should not have taken national media coverage of such graphic misuse targeting young children to prompt action … This report is particularly disappointing given that Pinterest has branded itself the ‘last positive corner of the internet.’”
As of April, the app has made some drastic changes regarding their policies on child and teen safety. Accounts for users under 16 are completely private meaning that they aren’t discoverable by other people, and their accounts won’t show up when searched. Pinterest has also disabled the messaging feature for teen accounts since the article, but are currently working on updating the feature so they can “allow for safe connections with people [the] teen knows.”
Along with banning certain features, Pinterest has since swept its entire platform to deactivate any accounts they believe to be dangerous. While a good idea in theory, this has caused a lot of innocent accounts to be disabled for no reason — an issue content creator Dove Clarke was forced to deal with. After having her 10-year-old account deleted for seemingly no reason she took to Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to post her complaints.
In a tearful video on TikTok, Clarke states: “Your stuff is not safe on Pinterest. I use Pinterest religiously for my job, I used Pinterest to find myself and now it’s all gone.”
Although Clarke was able to get her account back, this whole ordeal has tarnished Pinterest’s safe image and has made people weary of the app in general. Some Chabot students have also weighed in on the subject, with second-year Isaiah Moore stating: “I don’t use Pinterest but, that’s not really surprising. Unfortunately, stuff like that happens all the time on the internet.”
Another Chabot student, Cynthia Hernandez, had this to say: “I haven’t used Pinterest since middle school but, it’s terrible that that’s how certain people would use it. It’s just supposed to be an app for sharing pictures.”