Pinterest and Its Terms of Service: an announcment

Pinterest has been A) growing like crazy in popularity, and B) catching lots of criticism because of its terms of service. There were issues of copyright and Pinterest’s claim to the right to sell your images. See Pinterest and the Intellectual Property conundrum and Don’t Pin Me ‘Bro! The Saga of Copyright and Pinterest, and Pinterest’s Terms of Service, Word by Terrifying Word for background on the issues.

To its credit, Pinterest listened and is responding to the criticism and making changes to their terms of service. They posted on the Pinterest blog and emailed all their users with news of recent changes in the terms of service, privacy policy and acceptable use policy. Those changes go into effect April 6, 2012. Here’s the summary of changes:

Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.

We updated our Acceptable Use Policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.

We released simpler tools for anyone to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements.

Finally, we added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards.

It’s the third change mentioned, the one about reporting copyright or trademark infringements that we’ll look at first. Elisa Camahort Page started a conversation about those changes on Google+. Here’s some of what Elisa brought up:

1. Do these terms still allow them to swap user links for their own affiliate links? (The terms say they can re-format”, but do not explicitly mention link-swapping at all.) [Editor’s Note: See LLSocial for information on the link swapping or link skimming issue.]

2. Their terms have removed the exhortation not to self-pin or self-promote (kind of a duh update there), but they do specifically say not to use Pinterest to promote any third party or for commercial purpose. How does that work in real life?

3. They continue to put the onus on the user to know they have the right to pin what they pin. That probably aligns with legal precedent, but it also means that they’re not planning to change how visuals display within Pinterest in order for users to have the “thumbnail defense”.

There are many interesting comments in response to these questions that I urge you to go read. One in particular, by +Kelby Carr, who is writing a book about Pinterest, said,

As far as the copyright issue, I think at some point they will need to scale the size of all images even on the pin page itself. If they thumbnail them, yes it isn’t as pretty. But the full size image pin page is the only thing that makes Pinterest different than every other bookmarking/sharing site that pulls in a thumbnail from content shared.

A few minutes later, she added:

I also think it would go a long way if they would ban pinning from sites that are never the original source like Google image search.

No one specifically commented on the fact that the copyright owner is still the person who must police the site and go through Pinterest’s reporting process when they find a violation. As the Pinterest user, there were several ideas in Pinterest and the Intellectual Property conundrum that talked about how to be a responsible pinner and to try to be sure your pins were not in violation of anyone’s rights.

Dropping the idea that Pinterest might sell the content you pin is the topic of The Scientific American blog Symbiartic. They commented on what they call the misconception that sites like G+, Twitter, Facebook, deviantArt and Tumblr are all similar in terms of service in Pinterest updates Terms of Service, drops the “sell”. The writer points out that such sites,

do not claim to right to “sell” and “otherwise exploit” your content. The idea that this was some sort of stock, boilerplate Terms of Service is wrong.

The Symbiartic post cheers on all the bloggers and tweeters who spoke up about Pinterest’s terms with such success, and comments further,

For the people who posted the “but all sites are the same” sentiments, even if that were true, does that mean you have to roll over and take it? Most social media savvy sites like Pinterest do actually listen to their users – they understand the two-way street.

Pinterest itself echos that comment, saying users have had a big influence:

Like everything at Pinterest, these updates are a work in progress that we will continue to improve upon. We’re working hard to make Pinterest the best place for you to find inspiration from people who share your interest. We’ve gotten a lot of help from our community as we’ve crafted these Terms.

Pinterest may have a ways to go, especially on copyright, but they’ve made some significant changes. How do you feel about these new terms of service at Pinterest?

Cross-posted on BlogHer.

Speed tests, manly pin boards, and passwords

There were three stories I wanted to write about this week. I debated with myself about which one to tell you about and couldn’t make up my mind. I decided to give you a quick version of all three. You’ll find out about an iPhone 4G speed test, some new sites similar to Pinterest aimed at men, and how some colleges and employers are asking for Twitter and Facebook passwords.

iPhone Speed Test

Ramsey Mohsen wanted to know if the iPhone iOS update from 5.1 to 5.01 really ran faster using 4G. He tested with both AT&T and Verizon using both 3G and 4G. The results were interesting!

These results confirm rumors I’ve heard that devices can use 4G, but the networks don’t have it up and running much of anywhere yet. Something to think about when you are looking at device price points, perhaps.

Pin Boards for Men

Imagine the scene on the pin board playground. The girls are having a great time pinning things. They are showing massive growth in traffic, links, sales, and all sorts of metrics that might translate into money using a little thing called Pinterest. The boys want to play, but Pinterest seems filled with girl cooties and isn’t manly enough for them.

Well, some of the fellas checked out Pinterest – Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook for one. This either means Zuckerberg isn’t scared of girl cooties, or Facebook may soon have a pin board function.

Mark Zuckerberg aside, the boys want to pin, too. Who could resist the sharing fun, spreading great ideas such as where to find the best set of socket wrenches. Manly stuff. Soon enough, there were reports like 3 Pinterest Alternatives for Men. The 3 mentioned included, DartItUp, and MANteresting. Some of these are still in beta. Yes, the boys are playing catch up.

Capioomnia reported on some Pinterest alternatives, too, and mentioned one that is attempting to be gender-free called Chill. Chill is for video pinning. At Chill, you can pin videos about socket wrenches and sexy high heeled shoes for Valentine’s Day ensembles. Pins everyone can love.

May We Have Your Password, Please?

Finally, we come to the privacy invasion attempts by some employers and some colleges. They are asking potential employees and potential athletes to provide passwords for Twitter and Facebook. They want a look at your private stuff.

ReadWriteWeb posted What Should You Do If Your Employer Asks for Your Facebook Password? The article quoted career coach Sandra Lamb, who said,

If your Facebook or other social media website password is requested (or required) that goes beyond a red flag–it’s a deal breaker.

In this video from CBS This Morning, Cornell University professor Jeffrey Hancock said that asking for passwords is illegal, period. It’s not okay. Also part of the password conversation in this clip from CBS is the idea of digital estates, which BlogHer featured in Are You Prepared with a “Digital Estate”.

Legal or not, this is an growing practice. With jobs so hard to find, articles like Job Seeker Balks at Request to Provide Facebook Login emphasize the difficulty someone who needs the work faces when asked to provide a password.

Have you had any experience with 4G speeds, alternatives to Pinterest, or misguided requests for your passwords? Tell us about it.

This post was originally posted on BlogHer.