I love old things, but I’ve never been the type of person who wanted to live in the past (except for a few years in the early 60s when I wanted to be Mrs. Daniel Boone, but that’s another story). Our young woman from 1909 had to live without a lot of things we take for granted: safe and effective birth control, wide career opportunities, the right to vote… But on the other hand, she did not have to grapple with one of the dilemmas of our day – to pin or not to pin.
I’ve been ambivalent about Pinterest from the first time I looked at it. There were the obvious copyright concerns, but once I saw how the original source was automatically added when a pin was made, I was okay with it, especially since I was getting a lot of traffic from the site.
Then the funniest thing happened. The traffic trickled to a dead stop. I went from getting up to 50 hits a day from Pinterest to 9 in the past week. A close examination of the site revealed that one of the major links to the original source had been removed, and while there was still a link embedded within each image, it was not spelled out on the page, and thus, people were not clicking through to my blog and website.
I then went on a quest to see if my photos had been linked from other sources. I was shocked and dismayed to find my photos linking back to other people’s Tumblr pages and other people’s blogs. Sometimes there was a link to me, but very often, there was not.
But the biggest concern was not about my images, but about my writing. I found whole chunks of text copied from fuzzylizzie.com attached to some of the photos. I posted on all the photos, asking for the pinner to remove my text, and most have, but what about all the people who repinned my content? It would have taken hours to have contacted them all.
So where is this leading? I have installed the “Can’t be pinned” script to all pages on fuzzylizzie.com. Yes, I know people can still save my image and pin it that way, but I really don’t think most people are going to take the time and trouble that is involved. The problem is that the “Pin It” button is just so darned easy. And if anyone can tell me how to put the “Can’t be pinned” script here on WordPress, I’d be most appreciative. In the meantime, I’d really appreciate it if my photos and text are not posted on Pinterest, nor on Tumblr.
I hesitated to take this action, mainly because I actually enjoyed using Pinterest. But then it occurred to me – if I disliked other people randomly taking my work and posting it, then why was I doing the same to others. So I went through and deleted anything that either was not mine, or was posted by someone I knew would not mind. Even that did not quell my apprehension about Pintrest, so I ended up by deleting all my pins and boards.
This must sound pretty self-serving, and I do realize that the thing that made me sit up and take notice was the fact that my traffic from Pinterest had dropped so dramatically. But once taking steps to end my trip down the Pinterest rabbit-hole, I’ve noticed a few more things. On each individual pinned page there is an “embed” button. There, automatically, is a simple way for anyone who sees my image to like it and plop it on their blog or tumblr. In the script there is a link to the original source, which is easily removed, and which may or may not be the real source, as I pointed out above.
Over the past few days I’ve read dozens of articles and blog posts from people who are concerned about how Pinterest is being used. Most of them were about copyright concerns, but the most compelling thing I read was by Hila Shachar in her blog, Le Project d’amour. She writes about how pinning and tumbling remove an image from its context. As example, she sites a photo taken in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It is of a hallway that is covered with the photographs of the inhabitants of one village, all of whom were killed by the German SS in 1941. She has actually seen this photo on Pinterest under categories like “Home Decor” with captions talking about how cool it would be to have a photo-covered wall in one’s home. You can bet that the repinners have no idea where this photo originates.