For the second time in two months Pinterest decided to delete one of the boards in my my Pinterest account. This time it was “Other TG captions”, where I pinned links to captions written by other people—which I thought worthy of sharing—that I happened to come across on the site (the Pins were all posted by other people). And again, the excuse was that some of the Pins supposedly went against their guidelines about sexually explicit images. Here’s the text of the message I was sent:
As we mentioned in previous emails, we don’t allow sexually explicit images anywhere on Pinterest. These typically include depictions of sex acts (including masturbation), sexual fluids and sexualized genitalia. Please delete any other Pins that go against our policies. Otherwise, we may suspend your account.
At the risk of repeating myself, none of the images I have ever posted or pinned are sexually explicit. I have no interest in such images. Other than the last board deletion there were no “previous emails” warning me about my account being in violation about anything. Twice I received messages that a Pin was removed, but the offending item was never identified or described, leaving me thoroughly in the dark. How am I to delete other Pins that “go against their policies” when nothing I’ve ever pinned violates their guidelines? What is it they’re so upset about?
Since the images themselves are not the issue, the problem has to be that certain people object to the presence of TG erotica on Pinterest. These busybodies must be taking the time to read TG captions and flag some of them as “objectionable”; not because of the images themselves, but because of the ideas expressed in the text. Pinterest, for its part, then turns around and removes the offending Pin, most likely without even looking at it. From their point of view, why should they? It would be costly to have employees read and remove Pins; far easier to use an automated process instead. That’s understandable, but what it does is provide bigots with a tool to censor opinions they don’t like. This certainly qualifies as a violation of free speech, but there’s very little we can do about it. Pinterest provides a free service and there are other places on the Internet we can use to express ourselves. I myself only use Pinterest as a way to promote my own website and bring people here to view content that isn’t available anywhere else.
What I find frustrating about this are the lies Pinterest uses to slander the content they unceremoniously remove from their website. They may not be purposely telling fibs, but their system seems to be set up to do it for them. There really needs to be more transparency in the system. Giving people a warning that a Pin is in violation, and why, seems only fair, as does giving someone the chance to remove the item before an entire board is removed. This would apply to images that a copyright owner wishes removed, as well as pictures that violate someone’s sense of decency. Some form of redress for unfair treatment would also be nice.
It’s a pity that Pinterest seems to have little interest in tired old concepts like fairness and freedom of expression. Treating people this way will eventually see its users moving on to the next greatest (and hopefully better) image sharing service. Seems to me, the field is wide open for improvement.