How did we not know that our beloved Pinterest is acting shady?
The community of pinners is up in arms over the fact that the site has been making money off of user-submitted content without letting said pinners know.
We can't help but wonder: How are they doing it, and is it allowed?
The Money Is in the Links
Pinterest, the golden child of second-wave social media, began as an online bulletin board allowing users to visually bookmark interesting images from around the web.
A study showed that those images, which link to their sources, send more referral traffic to third-party websites than Google +, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. Which makes Pinterest a good (best?) friend of online retailers.
It turns out that Pinterest is working with a company called Skimlinks, which generates affiliate links for thousands of those retailers. Basically, the site modifies the standard links to online stores such as Target and Amazon into customized links and gets a kickback from any sales made through their use.
Those Pesky Terms of Service
This is completely legal, and not wholly unexpected. Through Pinterest's terms of service, the site is allowed to do just about anything it wants with users' pins. The thing upsetting users is that nowhere on the site is Pinterest's use of affiliate links disclosed. Users pin, browse and purchase without realizing how exactly they're supporting the site, and to find out that they've been generating cash all along is jarring.
And when we say "they," we mean "we." As avid Pinners ourselves (have you seen our boards?), our gut reaction to the news that our pins are being monetized without our knowledge is betrayal. It's all well and good for Pinterest to make money—we understand that they need to make money to keep providing us with their awesome site—but it's disappointing to think that we weren't trusted enough to know exactly where this money comes from.
Pinterest, we love you. But what is love without trust?
Image Credit: Pinterest