March 3, 2012

Best Practices for Responsible Pinning

With its usage numbers exploding, social image-sharing site Pinterest has recently come under more scrutiny. Just this week, I read about a lawyer and photographer deleting all her Pinterest boards because she was leery of the legal implications of the way images are posted and re-pinned.

It's true that Pinterest makes it easy for users to share images that don't belong to them without crediting or linking to the original source. If enough of this continues, Pinterest risks a backlash from photographers, bloggers, and other content creators. So for those of us who like Pinterest (or are hopelessly addicted) and want to keep using it, it behooves us to post and re-pin images responsibly.

After a few months of using Pinterest, here's the list of best practices I try to follow:

Check Links Before Re-Pinning

Don't just use the "re-pin" button that appears when you hover over a thumbnail on the Pinterest homepage. Before you re-pin something, click on it to see the full post, then click again to see where the original link goes. If it's just an image with no context or goes someplace shady, don't re-pin it.

Give Credit in Your Captions

When you pin something, tell your followers a little bit about what it is and where it's from. The sites you're linking to will appreciate your giving their image context and credit, and your fellow pinners will appreciate the extra information.
You can change a caption when you're re-pinning, so you can add context and credit info missing from the original pin. 

Unfollow the Worst Offenders

If someone you follow regularly pins pictures that don't link anywhere without giving any credit, just unfollow them. The more good pinning behavior is encouraged and bad behavior discouraged, the more Pinterest can be seen as a positive influence on the social media landscape. 

Mea Culpa

I admit that all of my pins don't necessarily follow these guidelines, particularly those made right after I joined the site. This is a list of best practices I've only adopted recently, inspired by all the attention brought to Pinterest by tech bloggers and others concerned about the legality of the site's business model. I like Pinterest and I don't want to see it crippled or sued out of existence, so I feel that I should do my part to avoid the problems that could bring the site down.

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