The Dark Side of Pinterest Blacklisting

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Pinterest Joins in Silicon Valley Control

If you’re a woman, have access to social media, enjoy getting ideas, and collecting inspiration from picture pieces that help spur your artistry in designing your home or baking a fantastic looking confection, then you probably use Pinterest. But what if the same site that helps you love your family with feng shui design concepts and decor ideas also shadow bans your faith or your values into blocked categories? Well, Pinterest did and it is maddening.

What is Pinterest?

According to Wikipedia, Pinterest, Inc. is a social media web and mobile application company. It operates a software system designed to enable discovery of information on the World Wide Web using images and, on a smaller scale, GIFs and videos. The site was founded by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp.  But more than just discovering information, it allows you as the user to collect pieces to “pin” on your digital “interest board” for you to reference later for inspiration. Generally used by women, it has been the leading platform for showing off interior design concepts, baked goods, and even guitar luthiers allow users to pin things on their Pinterest boards.

Platform or Publishing Company?

From the looks of it, Pinterest definitely seems to be nothing but a platform for women to garner pictures and such to bring inspiration to their daily lives. But with what has been happening in the social media and big tech arena, it seems that Pinterest has joined the fray to being a less of a platform and more of a publishing company. If you are sitting there reading this, you might be asking yourself why is there this split and why does this matter? Generally the argument goes like this. In order for a company to tout itself as a platform, it might first declare itself to be one which once it is recognized as a platform, it affords itself the legal immunity to not be responsible for what is published. For instance, in the case of Pinterest, if an anti-gay meme was posted on a Pinterest board by a user, Pinterest is not responsible for that content since it simply a place that allows people to post and pin whatever they want and they are not held legally liable for such content as Pinterest itself did not post it.

The same goes for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and any other social media site that declares itself a platform. On the other hand, a publishing company specifically makes content and posts that they are responsible for and if certain content is verifiably false, then such a company is held liable and responsible for the posted content in question. So for instance, The New York Times is in fact a publishing company. If they publish an article that has libelous material then they will be held liable and could face legal consequences. The distinction has been clear for a while but lately that line between platform and publishing company is blurring.

Benefits with No Consequences

Because much of the familiar big tech companies like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc all have promoted themselves to be “platforms.” This affords them the benefits of not being held liable for content that “less than savory” individuals may put out. It keeps such companies away from any legal recourse as these companies are not themselves publishing content but their users are. This in a sense absolves Twitter from legal recourse as we have seen with Strikethrough producer Carlos Maza who tweeted out a call to action for his followers to assault people with opposing perspectives that differ from Maza when he tweeted, “Milkshake them all…”.  Twitter by definition of being a “platform” will not face legal recourse because it was Maza using Twitter rather than Twitter being the ones making that statement and it absolves Twitter from being responsible for Maza’s tweet. Every social media platform enjoys this benefit but with the rising trend of big tech censorship, many are beginning to wonder and are insisting in fact, that big tech are platforms no longer. And by that right, should face the consequences of being publishing companies.

So What is This About, Pinterest?

Within the last week between the VoxAdpocalypse, the “update” of YouTube Terms of Service, and the Maza/Crowder debacle, Project Veritas learned that Pinterest is in fact joining the fray of censorship for opinions they do not like. LiveAction.org is a pro-life pregnancy advocacy and education organization solely bent on pushing the pro-life argument. Lila Rose began this organization with the hopes of ardently entering the pro-life message into a very pro-abortion culture and slowly but surely, she is being heard one person at a time. But in the case of Pinterest, it seems that they are throttling this organization in a more heinous way. Most often we hear that a channel, account or user gets temporarily suspended, shadowbanned or outright deplatformed due to various violations from very shady and very vague terms of service guidelines that are never really defined much less explained. Pinterest decided to outright halt any user’s ability to even find it as it was Megan McClellan who added LiveAction.org to an algorithim that equated the pro-life advocacy group with pornography.

If you do not know who this woman is, she is the President of Pinterest’s Trust and Safety Board and works in government operations in San Francisco. This woman basically cataloged LiveAction.org to be porn and halts any user from find them on Pinterest because of where they are placed in the Pinterest search algorithm. Essentially, Lila Rose’s pro-life education and advocacy group cannot be found because they are regarded the same as a porn site and are hidden from view completely. It took the actions of former Pinterest analyst Eric Cochrane to come forward and become a whistleblower against his former employer for their very real and heinous censorship practice of placing a pro-life advocacy group on the same lines as PornHub.

Double Jeopardy

After being fired, Cochrane came forward and went to Project Veritas and spilled the beans on the company who then went and produced a sting piece on the platform and posted the 19 minute video revealing not just the culprit who placed LiveAction.org in the unsearchable category likened to porn, but found that the video was removed from YouTube for “violating privacy.” Seems like McClellan didn’t want to be named for her dastardly actions. So James O’Keefe uploaded the video again but removed the key components and you will find it on the Project Veritas website for the full uncensored version. The back end coding text that revealed what Pinterest programmers and engineers are doing to blacklist individuals and groups from appearing in their search algorithms, along with some Slack threads that shows the Big Tech collusion that happens internally.

The entire debacle made it quite clear that Pinterest throttles certain content as well as prohibiting users of finding the things they want to find. Such terms like “Bible verse” will not auto populate, “Christian” will not show, LiveAction.org cannot be found, and even quotes from Conservatives like Ben Shapiro will not show up. The back end side of Pinterest is where all this can be found and it was Eric who stepped up and risked his livelihood to reveal all of this to O’Keefe. Now in order to save face, it appears that Pinterest has been working overtime to do damage control. Pinterest removed LiveAction.org from being blacklisted as porn but then suspended their Pinterest account. And just to add insult to injury, a Pinterest spokesperson said, “Religious content is allowed on Pinterest, and many people use our service to search for and save Pins inspired by their beliefs. To protect our users from being targeted based on personal characteristics such as their religion, we have policies in place so that ads and recommendations don’t appear alongside certain terms.”

Hold them Accountable

Cochrane said himself, “One person can make all the difference” and he is correct. But when many decide to come forward and show how evil Big Tech is acting, the fight could be taken back and there definitely needs to be increased efforts to ensure that Big Tech is held responsible. Let us heed the words of Louder with Crowder’s Steven Crowder on how we as individual citizens ensure we have our rights protected from Big Tech.

John Lee
NRN • New Right Network
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