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Pinterest is a social photo sharing site where users can create bulletin board 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 and Paul Sciarra after Silbermann had quit a job at Google and spent a few months trying to figure out what to do with his life. They began building the site in December 2009, launching a closed beta in March 2010. 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 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 which allows users to set up a queue for pins and PinReach which helps users gauge the success of their pins. There is also a weekly podcast at The Pincast about the site and its influential users.
In February 2012, Flickr announced an Opt-Out button 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 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 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, 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 and NPR about her post, which ultimately led to the Terms being updated to allow fair use of photographs found on the web.
Since more than 80% of the site’s traffic is composed of women, the site is often criticized for its mainly female userbase. Articles on the Huffington Post, NPR and TIME place a critical lens on the gender gap on the site, while Mashable and AdWeek 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 (below left) or men who pin things want their wives to cook for them (below right).
As of May 11th, 2012, Pinterest has an Alexa global rank of 39 and US rank of 16, Compete score of 58 and a Quantcast rank of 221, with more than 5.7 million people visiting every month. On Facebook, Pinterest has 1,904,107 likes and their official Twitter 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. 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.
Business Insider – Meet Ben Silbermann, The Brilliant Young Co-Founder Of Pinterest
DDK Portraits – Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards