This week I was asked to take a closer look at a social media platform and the “Terms and Conditions” and I chose Pinterest. I chose Pinterest mainly because I think it is a growing platform and one that I truly enjoy using. When I started to research the Terms of Service, I found out that in 2012 Pinterest had changed their Terms due to major backlash after people realized what they had agreed to.
A particularly good post about what was wrong with the site was one written by the Shrimp Salad Circus. She described why she had deleted all of her pins after carefully curating content. As it turns out, Pinterest had decided to not allow people to use Pinterest for self promotion, but expected people to own the content that they were posting. I was very confused by this and had to read the legal jargon a few times before I actually began to understand why this was such a conundrum. The fact is, most people use this site to create boards of wonderful things that they want to look at and keep for use at a later date. However, 99% of the time, they do not own that content. Which means that people should not be pinning anything except for the 1% that they own. What?
So many people were upset, that Pinterest did something great. They listened to their audience and changed their Terms. I found an article by the Huffington Post about the changes. It talks about how people were upset and how they changed the Terms to make them more palatable for people.
Above is a screen shot of the current Terms of Service when it comes to “Your Content”. The terms have changed to accommodate the requests by users, which I think shows how they were willing to deal with the ethical problems that their original Terms contained. Another point of ethics that I think Pinterest shows is how they have the “More simply put” boxes next to every paragraph explaining what it means for the user in simple terms. It shows how they are trying to make their terms simpler so that people actually know what they are getting into when they sign up. I think this is a great way to make sure that ethically they are making users happy as well as avoiding all unethical implications by confusing their users.
However, when it comes to the Copyright policy, I noticed that they didn’t put their “More simply put” boxes to make things less complex. On that page they used a lot of jargon and I think there was a reason for that. Since the copyright laws are what caused the problem for them the first time around, it is intentionally confusing for users to understand. At this time there is not a problem, but there is a potential problem if lawsuits end up happening and the original pinner and any other secondary pinner becomes held liable.