Pinterest Releases New Data on Content Removal Trends Based on Policy Violations

Pinterest has released its latest Transparency Report, which details all the content it removed or took action against in the first half of 2021 due to rule violations.


That seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? The first half of 2021 is already more than four months ago, but despite the reporting delays, the report offers some intriguing insights on how Pinterest is utilized and the difficulties it is encountering as it attempts to keep its community safe.


In terms of content violations, Pinterest reported a large increase in Pins removed for conspiracy theories in the second quarter of 2021:


“In Q1 2021, we deactivated 24,134 distinct images, which comprised 166,189 Pins, for violating this policy. In Q2 2021, we deactivated 16,204 distinct images, which comprised 1,148,947 Pins, for violating this policy. Of these Pins, 95% were never seen by users in this reporting period.”


So, while there wasn't a significant increase in novel conspiracy material, its prevalence increased dramatically, which is likely due to the broader COVID vaccination roll-out and numerous pandemic-related fears.


Pinterest also witnessed a significant spike in Pin removals connected to adult sexual services, with more than double the quantity of content removed in Q2 compared to Q1, as well as a significant increase in deactivations for harassment and criticism - many of which were in error:


“In Q1 2021, we deactivated 5,540 distinct images, which comprised 124,713 Pins, for violating this policy. In Q2 2021, we deactivated 7,238 distinct images, which comprised 1,238,782 Pins, for violating this policy. We determined that a small handful of these distinct images, and their more than 990,000 machine-identified matching Pins, were incorrectly deactivated, and we reinstated that content after spotting the error.”


This highlights the continued difficulty of using automated content ID systems for such purposes — mistakes will occur without the complexity and judgment of a human. However, relying on humans exposes workers to the negative effects of such viewing, thus there is no perfect answer on this front.

Pinterest also witnessed an increase in deletions linked to its policy against dangerous goods and activities, however many of these were due to a platform-wide clean-up.

Pinterest noticed a significant decrease in deactivations for Pins that conveyed graphic violence and threats, as well as self-injury and dangerous conduct, from Q1 to Q2. According to the data, spam prevalence was also down.


There are a few noteworthy trends here, which mostly reflect broader social media trends – however it's worth noting from a Pin-specific perspective, as the platform is generally not thought to be as impacted by these habits as other apps.


Pinterest, on the other hand, has 444 million users and wields considerable influence in its own right. Which, of course, draws more ill-intentioned actors looking to leverage that reach to boost their messaging, hence why we need more uniform, industry-wide approaches to addressing these issues and concerns to help clarify what's acceptable from a broader perspective and what these groups should enforce.


Based on these figures, Pinterest is doing a decent job of addressing these concerns and preventing inappropriate information from reaching users, but greater universal agreement and understanding would help these efforts.


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