whenever we don’t know what to cook for dinner, we turn to you. When it gets time to plan a holiday, we press that red icon on our mobile phones to research destinations, itineraries or simply stunning pictures. And close before Christmas, you provide us with the best gift ideas and help us decorate our homes.
For all of us, you have been and continue to be a stable source of inspiration. With the years, and the start of our businesses, you also became the platform to connect with our readers. The perfect place to share our ideas and values.
For a long time, we grew together. And what a journey that has been. You gave us the unique opportunity to engage with like-minded people – not hundreds, not thousands, but for many of us millions of other people who truly cared about our content.
Over the years, you made some decisions that forced us to think in different categories and new ways to maneuver the myriad ways of your smart feed to reach our readers. We tried it all, and in the end, we really don’t hold it against you for changing your mind on some elemental features a couple of times.
But while the growth started to exceed our keenest expectations, your dark side became apparent. Not all users played by the rules.
We saw our pins appear on our phones, laptops, and computers at home. We saw how so many people engaged with them, only to notice how our pins forwarded our valued readers to shady websites.
At the start, this happened once a month (if at all). While you didn’t answer our more elaborate e-mails, we had it on good faith that you would take care of these issues. Besides, whenever we reported them, the offending pins were removed by your DMCA team in a timely manner.
Some of us noticed, quite painfully so, that you also removed our own copies of those pins and our way to connect with our readers. We even learned to cope with that.
But sadly, this is not the end of the story.
Despite your best assurances, these copyright infringements, for that is what they are, got more frequent. Some of us file out the DMCA takedown notice 10 times a day. We spend our days, not looking for inspiration, but checking whether the URLs of each pin correspond with its copyright owner.
Whoever they are, they sure noticed they can earn an easy dollar by stealing our intellectual property and using you, dear Pinterest, for their own criminal ends. There are even programms for sale who automate this process now.
With dire consequences for us. Which user, I ask you, will care about our pins after he ended up on a suspicious casino site or an ad farm? With each click on a stolen pin, the efforts of our work get diminished by that very click. And those clicks add up fast.
Worse yet, these accounts don’t only steal from us, but from creators all over the platform. Yet we are quite helpless to report anything but our own content. And when we do organize ourselves, a new account with a new website redirecting to the original offer greets us the next time we open your app.
See. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes. We are all human. But we are talking about people stealing thousands of thousands of our images day after day.
We told you, over and over again, and still, you haven’t answered in a satisfactory manner. This is not a trivial user request to be postponed indefinitely. We are helpless bystanders in an ongoing crime you seem to take oh so lightly. Maybe not in spirit, but certainly as defined by your actions (or lack thereof).
Now, many of us started to use you less and less each day. We are getting tired. Exhausted. Some use even way stronger words. It takes so much effort to connect with our potential readers. An effort we are more than willing to undertake. But seemingly you do not seem to value it.
Dear Pinterest, we really want to stay loyal, but you are making it hard for us.
- Please give us a better way to reach out to you & work with you. Response rates of 2 weeks or more for anything that isn’t a direct DMCA takedown notice is not acceptable.
- Please implement a reliable check for all new pins. Check, if an image or description has been used by a business account already and block users from using it with different URLs. Allow us to register our designs upon upload.
- Please regularly crawl target URLs for consistency. Does the pin description match with the content on the website? And make sure to check for redirects.
- Ban domains and IP addresses of offensive users consistently. Again, check for redirects.
- Implement suitable protective measures to prevent scraping by the most common bots.
- Please, don’t burden us for doing your work. Not we, you are giving criminals an easy platform to abuse. Pinterest should have a special task force to check pins for inconsistencies and any possible violation of (copy)rights.
Not later, now. We don’t want to spend our days filing DMCA takedown notices. We don’t want to spend our days explaining to our readers how they ended up on an Amazon product page when they actually wanted to read one of our many detailed guides. We want to create amazing content and grow together with you. Please help us or we are, sooner or later, gone.
If you’d like to sign this open letter, please comment below.
And if you are just a reader: Stop using the smart feed and turn to the following-feed instead. Here, we are still in control and you will see only quality content from the creators and curators you follow.
That is all. Thank you for your attention.