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



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    22 Discussions


    3 years ago

    It's funny to run across your Instructable here, now, today because just a couple of days ago I sent Pinterest a not-so flattering email about their method of operation. There is something very dark about the way the website works to a possible new member. Practically forcing me to become a member before I even know if I want to be a member, but I rant on, sorry! And thank you for this post!!


    6 years ago on Step 6

    Thank you for sharing this information, Lynne. I'm relatively new to Pinterest and I hadn't quite decided what to make of it. You helped clear my head! ;-)


    6 years ago on Step 3

    omgosh... this dress is a work of art!!!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hey... I follow you on Pinterest and am happy for the tutorials and inspiration - so thanks :) Just thought someone should to bring to your attention the way links are handled by Pinterest (which I see have affected some of your pins). If you use a link shortener, Pinterest thinks it's a "suspicious" link and won't link to your post. If you post a long link in comments, it will truncate it. It's best to add a complete URL (not shortened one) in the link field and ask people to click through to the image - although most people who've been on Pinterest for a while already know to click. Looking forward to what you'll put up next!

    1 reply
    Lynne BruningIbis

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    thanks for the update! Once upon a time bitlys were allowed. I see I have some cleaning up to do. Thanks for letting me know!


    7 years ago on Step 6

    thank you for this useful tutorial, now i know i need to put this code at my download area

    1 reply
    Lynne BruningIrwan2

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 6

    Pinterest is frequently changing - read its TOS for the latest updates.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    It seams like everywhere I turn you are there, But thats a good thing! Just this morning my wife was rumbling off something about Pintrest, and I remembered seeing that word on this site, so I looked it up. And you wrote it, cool!!!! Great Job really good info.

    1 reply
    Lynne Bruningpooh1485

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. Its a pleasure to be in my studio making, creating and sharing my ideas with you. Stay tuned..... theres more to come.


    7 years ago on Step 6

    It always amazes me that website owners spend tons of money and time to drive traffic to their site, promote their content, and spread their stories and yet they are all terrified that someone might violate their copyright! They ruin their images with watermarks (even those that are so bad no one would WANT to steal them) and think they have a copyright on every individual word they write!

    As far as I can see, only the tiniest bit of a site (one photo) is pinned to Pinterest, and each is linked back to the originating site. Nothing appears to violate the fair use provisions of the copyright laws.

    If there are any Pinterest users reading this, feel free to go to me site -- -- and pin to your hearts content!!!

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Imagine the joys of a professional photographer whose photos are pinned and redistributed without consent, attribution, or compensation. I love it when my stuff gets pinned (unusual uses ftw), but I can absolutely understand why someone might not want to enable massive theft of their work. Not everyone uses their website merely as a call for attention.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    A few hours ago Printerest was for me something I saw and heard about but had no idea what it actually is and does.

    Reading your Instructables I feel almost like a pro - no fuss talk just straight to the core issues thanks to your step-by-step navigation around to murky legal matter.

    Love the transparent Gif thing

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 6

    Be very carefull adding third party code to your hard made web pages because there are errors that can creep in when you add third party code, big errors !

    3 replies

    7 years ago on Introduction

    The new world is all about sharing. It's in the DNA of the youth.