What Does Pinterest’s New Transparency Say About Our Privacy

Mar 12 • Pinterest, Social Media • 1865 Views

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Pinterest has announced the publication of its first transparency report that details the Law Enforcement Requests it has received. Though all companies must comply with these requests, social media giants are leading the way in transparency. So, what can we learn about our online Pinterest privacy from this report?


1. Movies like to play up the role of a Big Brother-type federal government overseeing our digital lives, but the truth is that of the twelve information requests made, eleven were from local law enforcement agencies and a small portion of civil requests. In addition, unlike platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest only complies with U.S. law enforcement requests, so hold off on any international conspiracy theories for now.






2. Unless prohibited by law, Pinterest will notify you if your information has been requested. Of the twelve requests that Pinterest has received since July 2013, all but three community members were alerted to the requests for their information. Circumstances that require delay of notification include flight risks or possible destruction of evidence.


3. Pinterest defines its responsibility for transparency by whether your information is being handed over to authorities. If law enforcement officials request the preservation of your account information, presumably so that evidence is preserved, then Pinterest does not inform you.




4. Law enforcement requests will not be obtuse. When you are notified of their request, you will also receive a copy of the Law Enforcement Request that Pinterest received.


5. Government does not have free-for-all access to your private information. If Pinterest finds the, “nature, scope or content of the request…objectionable or defective,” then they will reject it and, in one case, has done so. A valid subpoena, court order, or search warrant is required.




6.The type of information that law enforcement can request from Pinterest includes your basic account information, such as email address, name, username, date/time of account creation, and IP addresses, as well as your list of followers and your Pins with any descriptions, comments, board names, and likes made on your Pins or that you have made on other people’s Pins.


These numbers are staggeringly low compared to Facebook’s 38,000+ requests during the first six months of 2013, but the public never complained about too much transparency. What are your thoughts on these reports? Do they make you feel more comfortable with your personal information?


top photo by Gil C / Shutterstock.com


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