Introduction: How to Use Pinterest Before It Uses You

On 23 March 2012 Pinterest changed its TOS.

I believe in the power of the internet to support communities, share information and learn about the universe.  I submit Instructables, post how-to videos and mentor students around the globe.  I use open source and creative commons just as much as I add to it.

Yet Pinterest makes me uncomfortable.  This social media service assumes that any visual content is there for the taking.  Their ‘pin it’ button seamlessly integrates copyrighted material into the Pinterest licensing system. It's just a little too slick not to wonder what's happening behind their closed doors.

I am not going to delve into the legality of Pinterest TOS nor how many users are pinning content without copyright approval.  That will be played out over time by those far more qualified than myself.

What I want to share with you is the understanding that Pinterest is a tool.  And just like any other tool you need to use it wisely to support your needs or it will use you.  The following is a heirarchy of methods I employ when sharing information on the internet and specifically addresses the optimization of Pinterest.

Step 1: Basic Guidelines

Only upload an content of which you want used, shared and promoted.

Prevent loss of attribution by placing a watermark on the image itself.

Make it easy for current social media to link back to your website by using plug-ins and apps.

Step 2: Use Transparent GIF Files

No Pinning Allowed

1.  If the web page does not have an image Pinterest has nothing to pin.

Two ways to achieve this are:

a)  don’t post an image.

b)  insert a transparent gif over your image.

On this page I have installed a trans gif .

Step 3: Install the 'No Pin' Code

2.  Install the No Pin code from Pinterest

Go the bottom of the Help page and click on ‘what if I don’t want images pinned?’.  This section provides a short code to place at the top of your web page.  As of 27 February 2012 the code is <meta name="pinterest" content="no-pin" />

On this page I have installed the no pin code.

Step 4: Active Flickr No Pin Code

3. Flickr -  Activate the No Pin Option

Log on to your Flickr account and enter the privacy settings tab.  Scroll to ‘allow others to share your stuff’ and click no.  When someone attempts to pin your photos this message appears

On this Flickr page I have installed a no pin code.

Step 5: Utilize Pinnable Thumbnails

Allow Pinterest Access to Thumbnails

Currently, Pinterest appears to be uploading a medium size image file to it’s service.  If their members have access to this big bold view why would they click thru to your website?  Furthermore, do you want to freely give away a medium sized image for Pinterest to license?

Or as Mama would say -  why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Instead - use an engaging thumbnail image on the webpage so that viewers are encouraged to click thru to your website.

For Example
this page pins as a medium image
this page pins a thumbnail

You find that Pinterest only has access to a 200 x 133 thumbnail teaser.

Step 6: Use It or Be Used by It

Pinterest is a fun engaging tool for quickly sharing visual data. 

Please use these methods to build your consensual relationship with Pinterest.
Its a great social media tool.  
Use it before it uses you.

I'll be looking for you on Pinterest!

February 2012 Media References

Pinterest Users Need to Read the Fine Print’ by Carole Ditosti

Pinterest Introduces "NOPIN" to Counter Copyright Concerns’ by Lim Yung-Hui

Is Pinterest a Haven for Copyright Violations?’  by Ellen Brundige

Pinterest Might Be Enabling Massive Copyright Theft’  by Kevin Lincoln

'A Flaw in Pinterest’s Potential Fair Use Argument' by Lian Amaris

'For Pinterest, Revenue Would Turn Copyright Questions Into Problems' by Colleen Taylor