In my post Off Topic: If You Pin It, They Will Come, I mentioned that after my initial creation of a Pinterest account to collect Halloween ideas, I used it as a storage space of sorts for things that I found on the Internet that I did not want taking up space on my iPad. This included uploading a number of images that I had saved from the Internet onto my iPad, which of course stripped the images of information regarding their point of origin. When I uploaded them to Pinterest, they were displayed as having been saved by me as the origin of the content, which is of course patently false.
I was rereading Dudenhoffer (2013) whilst working on my final OLJ post, and one of the subjects in that chapter regards the issue of copyright on Pinterest. Now, I had always meant to go back and add sources on all of the things I had uploaded, but as someone who is frequently busy with school and work, it naturally fell by the wayside (to my eternal shame). And in the interim, other people had saved and repinned the pins that I had uploaded.
Today, I decided to remedy this as much as I could. Some of the pins I deleted; many I moved to a private board to be processed at a later date; and as for the rest, I bit the bullet and sat down and went through and added sources to each one (thank goodness for Google’s search by image, incidentally). But while I was doing this, I noticed something interesting.
After adding a source to a pin, any other activity on the pin would disappear. I.e., if another user had saved or repinned it, that activity would disappear and it would go back to saying that only I had pinned it. Eventually I decided to do a little experiment. I found a pin that I had uploaded, navigated to its location on the repinner’s board in a new tab, and then proceeded to add the source as I had been. I then went back to the other tab to see if the pin had updated on the repinner’s board. To my surprise and chagrin, it had not. Some screen captures of the process are included below:
As you can see from the images, the pin was updated on my board, but on the repinner’s board, it still said that I had saved it originally and that the other activity came after that. It is possible that the changes will propagate after some time has passed, and I will attempt to remember to go back and check it again in the future to see if that has happened. But if there is no framework in place to update the source of pins through repinning and liking activity, I can well understand the fears regarding content sourcing and copyright on Pinterest, because once the initial oversight has been committed and spread through repinning and liking activity, there is no chance to correct it after the fact. If this is an unavoidable part of how the Pinterest platform is programmed and cannot be adjusted in any way, I feel Pinterest would do well to make that explicit in the user interface when a user uploads an image, for instance by including a small message similar to the one displayed when a user attempts to repin a pin they have already repinned. Such a message should inform the user that they will be unable to add a persistent source for the image after it has been uploaded and that they should either include a source for the image at the time of upload or wait to upload the image until they have the source available. Although this would likely matter little to many people, the transparency would, I feel, go a long way in proving Pinterest’s attention to the issue of copyright and content sourcing.