Posted February 3, 2014 3:45 pm by with 3 comments

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mXWhqTUI’d guess that 99% of the people who use a social media site don’t bother to read the Terms of Service. They’re long. They’re legal. They’re often contradictory, so I get it. Plus, it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission, right? But when money is involved, people have a tendency to get. . . shall we say. . . creative and that can lead to a poor user experience for everyone else.

Pinterest uses the word “authentic”, meaning they only want Pins that would naturally occur based on someone’s enthusiasm for the subject matter. In order to keep the site more “authentic,” they’ve clarified a few points in an update to their Acceptable Use Policy.

And kudos to the team who wrote this document in plain English. It’s not that we’re stupid, but by stripping out the legalese, they’ve made their position crystal clear.

Paid to Pin:

You cannot compensate a person for pinning, repinning or liking your business pins.

You can pay a person to run your Pinterest. You can also pay commission through an affiliate network for items purchased through a pin.

So hiring a company that has an army of repinners working for a penny a pop will get you banned.


Back in October, Pinterest changed their terms in regard to the “Pin to win” contests that had become popular on the site. Here’s a refresher:

If you run a contest or other type of promotion on Pinterest, please don’t:
— Suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you or the promotion
— Require people to Pin from a selection
— Make people Pin your contest rules
Run a sweepstakes where each Pin, board, like or follow represents an entry
— Encourage spammy behavior, such as asking participants to comment
— Ask Pinners to vote with Pins, boards or likes
— Require a minimum number of Pins

You can run a contest where you ask people to pin something with a hashtag (so you can locate all of the entries) but it must be a one entry per person situation.

Pinterest also created a document with plain English content guidelines and examples (which might be disturbing) of inappropriate Pins. I would hope that no one here needs to be told not to pin these kinds of materials but you never know. . .

The bottom line is, you can’t do anything that artificially inflates your numbers. It’s common sense but sometimes we all need a reminder. Forget the shortcuts. Play the game, by the rules or you risk losing the account you worked so hard to build up in the first place.

  • Anna Bennett

    There are several companies out there that blatantly advertise how they connect brands or businesses to their “influencer network” for a fee. I’m surprised that Pinterest hasn’t shut them down. Nice post Cynthia.

    • cynthialil

      From the sound of it, they can only legal shut a company down for infringing on Pinterest’s trademarks. The only thing they can do with these pin companies are shut down the accounts for Terms of Service violations – but they have to catch them at it first.

  • Thanks for the updates!