Pin this: Reviewing Pinterest’s Terms and Conditions

MMC 6936 – Week 2 Readings: Terms and Conditions

Pinterest is a place to discover ideas for all your projects and interests, hand-picked by people like you.”

When considering potential issues, safeguards and ethical concerns in Pinterest’s terms and conditions, this social media platform is in the business of helping users connect by enabling them to post and share photos and images (copyrighted materials) all while protecting itself from copyright infringement, liability and overall risks of responsibility or accountability – all while walking an ethical tightrope.

In reviewing Pinterest’s terms, I was surprised to find that unlike social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest provides more user-friendly material and content in its terms and conditions. The terms come across as more conversational and as more of “How-to” guide. To help avoid confusion among users, I liked how Pinterest provides simplified language and helpful, tangible examples that users can understand and help their experience. Consider the following examples:

Simplified Comm 1

Simplified Comm 2

Examples Provided

While one can easily correlate contract theory of ethics to the terms, I found myself thinking about the Ethics of care and how Pinterest’s terms and conditions made more of an effort to include emotion, bonding and relationships. Why is that? Why do I feel like part of the conversation when it comes to Pinterest versus an authoritative dictatorship when it comes to Facebook (I.e. You will do this, etc.) Is it the user base? According to analysis by RJMetrics, 80 percent of Pinterest users are female. Beyond this, more than 90 percent of all pins are created/shared by women. There are apparently “15x more pins by women than by men” on the site.

Concerns & Pinterest Safeguards:

Copyright. With thousands of photos and images being pinned every minute, copyright infringement and liability have to be high on the priorities list. Pinterest addresses the question of intellectual property rights by acknowledging them, issuing their stands and specifically referencing  the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. I like how it provides users with the source and helps answer the “Why?” question.

Your rights. Despite respecting intellectual property rights, users are still signing away their rights to their content and IP. “You grant Pinterest and its users a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub licensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest solely for the purposes of operating, developing, providing, and using the Pinterest Products.”

Arbitration. This is a new term I hadn’t seen before and thought that it was interesting to see how Pinterest tries to prevent or limit lawsuits, by having users go through arbitration first.

  • For any dispute you have with Pinterest, you agree to first contact us and attempt to resolve the dispute with us informally.
  • If Pinterest has not been able to resolve the dispute with you informally, we each agree to resolve any claim, dispute, or controversy (excluding claims for injunctive or other equitable relief) arising out of or in connection with or relating to these Terms by binding arbitration by the American Arbitration Association


But can Pinterest be liable? No, it’s safeguarded itself by you using its services and agreeing to its terms:

  • Pinterest takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any User Content that you or any other user or third party posts or transmits using our Products. You understand and agree that you may be exposed to User Content that is inaccurate, objectionable, inappropriate for children, or otherwise unsuited to your purpose.

As with any other social media site, the responsibility lies with you.


    1. I contend that Pinterest has one of the most user-friendly / customer-centric terms and conditions of any social media site. But are there others? And would you agree or if so which sites? So why does Pinterest adopt a more user-friendly style for its terms?
    2. Pinterest states, “Our Products are controlled and operated from the United States, and we make no representations that they are appropriate or available for use in other locations.” Since social media has no borders or boundaries, how does international law apply to social media terms and conditions?

About Frank Clouser

I'm currently the Senior Corporate Relations Manager for Allstate Insurance's Northwest Region. I lead the regional corporate relations department responsible for reputation management, strategic communications, media relations, issues management, community relations and employee communications in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii. I manage integrated communications that drive outcomes aimed at increasing engagement, strengthen brand reputation and increase consumer consideration of Allstate. I also proactively manage emerging and existing issues that may have an impact on overall business performance and Allstate's reputation. Provide strategic counsel to Field Senior Vice President and regional partners as a member of the region's senior leadership team.

2 responses to “Pin this: Reviewing Pinterest’s Terms and Conditions”

  1. HamptonRay says :

    Nice post, Frank. I don’t consider myself a Pinterest user. I have an account, I just don’t see a lot of value for me to visit the site often. I think this is in part because I don’t have a lot of friends on the site and in part because the medium just doesn’t interest me as much as Twitter. I find it easier for me to scroll through Twitter and read text instead of the more image based Pinterest.

    However, your findings regarding Pinterest’s terms are very interesting, specifically the arbitration terms. Requiring users to contact Pinterest directly if there is a problem before seeking legal counsel seems a bit of a stretch. If I had a problem with a website as large as Pinterest I would get an attorney instead of trying to deal with a massive company. Other than the arbitration requirements, I agree with you that the terms are generally user friendly and relatively easy to understand.

    Great question about international law being applicable to social media- I’m not an attorney, but I would think that each country has its own copyright laws that are best adjudicated in their region. International law is a nice concept, but in practice I think it’s hard to enforce these types of laws and generally independent countries are best suited to handle copyright and other legal matters.


    • Frank Clouser says :

      Hampton, thanks for the comment. Totally agree with the Arbitration. Feels a little forced and makes me feel powerless. I’d do the same thing as you and get an attorney, but apparently not if I use Pinterest. I also liked how you brought up how inter-connected the internet is and how powerful a tool social media can be for getting the message out. Each site is linked to each other leading to instant knowledge gratification. Thanks again for your thoughts and comments!


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