Updated Mar 15, 2015 at 04:14PM EDT by Twenty-One.

Added May 11, 2012 at 05:37PM EDT by amanda b..

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Pinterest[1] is a social photo sharing site where users can create bulletin board[2] inspired “pinboards,” collecting images based on a theme or topic, often relating to life events, interests or hobbies. Users can like each others photos or “repin” them to their own boards.


Pinterest was founded by college friends Ben Silbermann[8] and Paul Sciarra[9] after Silbermann had quit a job at Google and spent a few months trying to figure out what to do with his life.[10] They began building the site in December 2009, launching a closed beta in March 2010.[11] As of May 2012, the site is in invitation-only open beta.

Once an invitation is secured through another user or their email wait list, users can build a “pin feed” by following other people’s boards. New content can be found by browsing recent pins[13] section, which can be broken down in to the 32 different categories that boards can be sorted into.


Several tools have been built for Pinterest users including Pinerly[14] which allows users to set up a queue for pins and PinReach[15] which helps users gauge the success of their pins. There is also a weekly podcast at The Pincast[16] about the site and its influential users.

In February 2012, Flickr announced an Opt-Out button[17] which allows users on any website to add a line of metadata to their content that will not allow images to be pinned. Three months later, Pinterest added in an Attribution line[18] that would automatically scrape Flickr data when images from the site were pinned, placing it underneath the user’s caption with a Flickr logo (shown below).

On February 24th, 2012, photographer and lawyer Kirsten Kowalski published a blog post[19] to her personal website detailing why she deleted her boards after reading in the site’s Terms of Service that users become solely responsible for the content that they share, assuming that they have all rights and licenses, freeing Pinterest employees from any fault were a copyright issue to arise. The post received 11,000 likes on Facebook and nearly 700 comments in a few days. Five days later, Kowalski published a follow-up post stating that Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann reached out to her personally[20], calling to speak with her about her concerns and asserting that the Terms of Service would be clarified. A month later, Kowalski was interviewed on TechCrunch[22] and NPR[23] about her post, which ultimately led to the Terms being updated to allow fair use of photographs found on the web.[21]

Stereotypical Usage

Since more than 80% of the site’s traffic is composed of women[24], the site is often criticized for its mainly female userbase. Articles on the Huffington Post[25], NPR[26] and TIME[27] place a critical lens on the gender gap on the site, while Mashable[28] and AdWeek[29] have found that women who use the site are changing how social marketing works, finding that more users will trust Pinterest recommendations than those from their Facebook or Twitter friends.

Viral content site Buzzfeed publishes regular collections of odd boards found on the site, including those of single women who are planning weddings[30] (below left) or men who pin things want their wives to cook for them[31] (below right).


As of May 11th, 2012, Pinterest has an Alexa[3] global rank of 39 and US rank of 16, Compete[4] score of 58 and a Quantcast[5] rank of 221, with more than 5.7 million people visiting every month. On Facebook[6], Pinterest has 1,904,107 likes and their official Twitter[7] account has 758,677 followers.

Between September 2011 and March 2012, Pinterest doubled its traffic, peaking at more than 11 million unique users per month.[12] As of March 2012, the average user spends 98 minutes on the site per month, putting them underneath Facebook and Tumblr in amount of time users spend logged in. By the end of April, the site’s growth had leveled off.[32]

Search Interest

External References

[1]Pinterest – Home

[2]Wikipedia – Bulletin Boards

[3]Alexa – Pinterest

[4]Compete – Pinterest

[5]Quantcast – Pinterest

[6]Facebook – Pinterest

[7]Twitter – @pinterest

[8]Twitter – @8en

[9]Pinterest – Paul Sciarra

[10]Business Insider – Meet Ben Silbermann, The Brilliant Young Co-Founder Of Pinterest

[11]Wikipedia – Pinterest

[12]CNNPinterest: Revamped profile pages, iPad app coming soon

[13]Pinterest – All Pins



[16]The Pincast

[17]Mashable – Flickr vs. Pinterest: Flickr Users Can Now Implement Pinterest Opt-Out

[18]Mashable – Pinterest and Flickr Make Photo Attribution Easier

[19]DDK Portraits – Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards

[20]DDK Portraits – My Date with Ben Silbermann -- Following Up and Drying My Tears

[21]Huffington Post – Pinterest Terms Of Service Get Updated

[22]TechCrunch – Pinterest Copyright Issues Could Spur Changes To Terms Of Use And ‘Pin Etiquette’

[23]NPR‘Pinterest’ Wades In Murky Copyright Waters

[24]Engauge – Pinterest: A Review of Social Media’s Newest Sweetheart

[25]Huffington Post – The Pinterest Gap: Is Pinning Only for Women?

[26]NPRSo Pinterest Is A Woman’s World. Does That Matter?

[27]TIMEMen Are from Google+, Women Are from Pinterest

[28]Mashable – How Pinterest’s Female Audience Is Changing Social Marketing

[29]AdWeek – Survey: Women Trust Pinterest More Than Facebook, Twitter

[30]Buzzfeed – 21 Signs That Pinterest Has Made Your Girlfriend Crazy And Unstable

[31]Buzzfeed – 39 Ways Men Use Pinterest

[32]USA Today – Pinterest growth curve levels off

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