When I first heard about the social sharing site Pinterest back in 2012, I couldn’t figure out the name. I kept reading it as Pine-Rest. But then I took a closer look and split it up this way: “pin”-“interest”. Oh, PINterest. As in a place to “pin” (or share) your interests.
Pinterest has grown by leaps and bounds since I first joined – way back then you had to get on a waiting list. These days, just sign up with your e-mail address or connect through Facebook.
When Pinterest started, all your pins and boards were public and available to anyone viewing Pinterest. I remember a friend who at first thought Pinterest was pretty cool and saved some ideas for furniture and clothing to a few boards. But once she realized that other people – including her Facebook friends – could see what she had saved, she lost interest.
If you tweak a few settings, it is possible to maintain some sense of privacy and anonymity while using Pinterest. Here’s how.
So, what is Pinterest anyway?
Essentially, Pinterest is a social sharing site based on the sharing of images. What sets Pinterest apart from other sites is that it is primarily visual. It’s all about photos, graphics, images (and a few videos here and there). Pinterest members have a profile where they set up “boards”. These could be themed, like Travel, Food, Style, and Inspiration. Members then “pin” (or save) images to their boards. You then follow other people’s boards to see the images they are pinning. If you see a pin you like you can save (“re-pin”) it to your board. You can “like” pins and leave comments.
Why use Pinterest?
Well that is a very good question. I wanted to find an answer which is why I joined. Pinterest can be useful on a few different fronts. A few examples:
- Recipe sharing – instead of bookmarking a recipe, you can pin it to a board and have a visual display of recipe ideas rather than a list of links in your Favorites.
- Design inspiration – Redecorating a room? Starting a garden? You can peruse the topics for ideas. Or if you are researching an upcoming design project, you can pin your ideas to a board and see them grouped together visually.
- Crafts – For those that are crafty (not yours truly) you can get lots of ideas for craft projects.
- Style – Peruse outfits, hairstyles, makeup looks and nail art from friends and fashionistas.
Pinterest starts you off with some suggested topics to follow. Your main feed will then show you pins from those topics to get started. You can then follow other pinners and their pins will appear in your feed. Your feed is what you see when you first log into Pinterest.
Pinterest Privacy Settings
In general, your boards and pins are public and available to anyone viewing Pinterest. But there are a few ways to maintain privacy on Pinterest.
Create Private (Secret) Boards
When you create a new board, the default setting is a public board. I guess they figured it wouldn’t be much of a social sharing site if nobody could see what you were sharing! However you can also decide to create a secret board. When your board is secret, nobody on Pinterest will see the board or any pins you save to the board.
Remove your last name from your profile
Your profile information such as your name and photo is always public. When you join using your Facebook account, Pinterest will use your Facebook name and profile picture. You can change that if you’d like, for example to leave out your last name for a bit more anonymity. From your profile page, click the Edit profile icon (looks like a pencil) to change your Name, Profile Picture and username. You can also remove the “About You’” text that might have come over from Facebook.
Hide your profile from search engines
The default setting allows search engines such as Google to find your Pinterest content and display it in their search results. You can change this setting from your profile page by clicking on the Settings link (next to the pencil icon). The first part of the page is Account Basics. Change the Search Privacy toggle from No to Yes. You may get a prompt that “It’ll take several weeks for search engines to remove your profile from search results. You can speed up the process with Google using their online tool.”
There are two options under Personalization, described thoroughly in the Pinterest help pages. These two options basically cover how Pinterest can use data about you that might be saved when you visit other websites that have Pinterest functionality. You can switch both of these from Yes to No.
Disconnect Pinterest from social media accounts
It’s convenient to join Pinterest (or any other service) using a Facebook account rather than having to create a new username and password. However, you then have a connection between accounts, and you might prefer to keep your Pinterest activity separate from your Facebook activity. Pinterest won’t share your pins without your knowledge, but you can put up a bit of a wall between to the two services, so to speak.
To disconnect Pinterest from your social media accounts, go back to settings and scroll down to Social Networks. You’ll see which accounts are connected. Switch them from Yes to No. If you used Facebook to create your account, you’ll set up a new password, as you’ll now log in using your username and new Pinterest password. [This didn’t work for me and I have an e-mail out to Pinterest as to why it doesn’t work].
When Pinterest first came out, there were also settings in place that sent all your Pinterest activity over to Facebook, and you had to jump through a few hoops to prevent your FB friends from seeing what you pinned. That option is no longer there, so that is at least one less thing to worry about – Pinterest won’t automatically send your pins over to Facebook.
Kids and teens using Pinterest?
Since I first wrote this article Pinterest has gained in popularity among teens. While still not quite up there with Instagram or Snapchat, around 22% of teens are using online pin boards. More teen girls than boys are using the service, and this is similar to the split for adults as well.
If you have a teen who uses Pinterest, you may want to ask them what they like about it – what do they use it for, what kinds of things are they pinning. Do they know that all their boards are public by default? You may want to share these privacy tips with them.
So what’s the Verdict?
Pinterest is fun and a little bit addicting. You can easily click around, see some beautiful imagery and be inspired. If you’re looking for craft ideas, DIY ideas, design and style ideas, recipe ideas, and you like pretty pictures, you might want to check it out. And if you don’t want the whole wide world to know what you’re pinning, use these tips to stay private on Pinterest.
Already on Pinterest? Be sure to follow Be Web Smart on Pinterest right here: www.pinterest.com/bewebsmart. I pin all my articles there so you can save them for future reference (privately, if you wish!) Have a pinteresting day!