[First, you may want to read The Promise & Perils of Pinterest by Glendon and Pinterest Terms of Service: Word by Terrifying Word by Kalliopi. There's also a Link Round-Up on The Flying Trilobite.]

"But all sites are the same"

Since Kalliopi and I wrote about our views of Pinterest's Terms of Service, I've noticed a common misconception in many blogs, tweets and comments.


"For Those Freaking Out Over Pinterest's Terms Of Service, Have You Stopped Using Every Other Internet Site Yet?"


"...this type of provision is actually very common, and to a certain extent, is necessary for any social media site to run."

Copyright Librarian:

" These elements of Pinterest's TOS are common to just about ALL USER-GENERATED-CONTENT SITES' TOSs (though I'll admit that Pinterest is somewhat unique (and kinda weirdly archaic in a couple of places) in their specific language and points.)"


"Can see how this is scary but sadly these days its just normal RT @kzelnio: Pinterest’s Terms of Service http://bit.ly/FQLMZO by @symbiartic"

Symbiartic Commenter jesskupferman:

"With Pinterest, it is NO DIFFERENT. They can do what they want with the content. Not agreeing to terms like these means you don’t get to use neat stuff on the Internet."

And on.

Some of these sites even post the Terms of Service from sites like Tumblr or discuss Facebook's ToS with an eye that they are the same. One of the reasons I singled out the "sell" and "otherwise exploit" portions of Pinterest's terms is because although they are small words in a long document, they are hugely different and significant.

Sites like G+, Twitter, Facebook, deviantArt and Tumblr do take broad licence to modify and otherwise re-purpose content. Much of the reasons for that is it's a way of keeping up with technology. Most social media sites have a mobile version, and these provisions are a way of addressing alterations to content for a different format. As I said in The Promise and Perils of Pinterest, there's a lot to like about Pinterest - and as with any website, content creators, whether writers, artists or podcasters have to do some risk assessment to see if putting each piece of content online is worth it. Risk assessment comes with being a creator whether you're showing your work to an editor, a colleague, or the whole legion of intertubes.

Let me be clear: G+, Twitter, Facebook, deviantART, Flickr and Tumblr (as well as many many other social media and image-sharing 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.

Pinterest responds...quietly

I indicated in my previous post's comments that I had been contacted by a community manager at Pinterest; the initial answers were contradictory enough to cause me to delete the content of my own Pinterest boards. Later I was contacted by a PR representative for the company. It was indicated by the community manager and PR rep that Pinterest was looking to change the Terms of Service and remove the "sell" portion. Frustratingly, this was all to be off the record. Meanwhile, Kalliopi's post rocketed up a few thousand Facebook 'likes", hundreds of tweets sharing our posts were retweeted, Nieman Journalism Lab caught sight of the issue and the Huffington Post carried Kalliopi's analysis of the Pinterest Terms of Service.

Pinterest Changes Terms of Service

As of Friday 23rd of March 2012, Ben Silbermann and his team announced on their blog, among other changes:

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

The new Terms of Service will officially take effect April 6 2012 and Pinterest will finally actually be similar to other social media and image sharing sites.

For all the people who wrote blog posts, tweets, emails and comments about Pinterest and their over-reaching Terms, you knew it can make a difference. Speak up!

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.

Will I restore content to my boards? We all have several days to read over the new Terms of Service and figure that out.

And Pinterest? Thanks for listening.