The Pinterest Phenomenon

If you haven’t yet heard of Pinterest, chances are that you will very soon. The concept of Pinterest is ingenious: a website that allows the user to save, or “pin” things that interest them, organize them onto “boards”, and share them with other users with whom they follow and in turn follows them. As its name implies, it’s like a cyberspace bulletin board, which means: it takes up much less space in your house, is much easier to keep everything you like in one spot, and it’s yet another form of social networking. Commonly found subjects for Pinterest boards include: recipes, holiday decorating ideas, party planning ideas, style inspiration, homemade “green” cleaning products, money-saving ideas, and the list goes on and on. The majority of the pins a user sees are from their friends, or “followers”, but the user is also able to see pins from people whom they’ve never met, and are certainly not following. The reverse is also true, meaning users who don’t know you and don’t follow you are able to see what you pin and what your interests are.

There are no privacy settings, and while each user must have an account in order to gain access to the “meat and potatoes” of the site, it’s still possible to browse the pins of complete strangers without an account. The safety of this may be a bit questionable-just how easy could it be for a user’s identity to be stolen based on simple observation of his or her interests? This thought is especially disturbing when users use their own names as a username instead of a made-up name. As with any other networking website, it would be safe to assume that maintaining some sort of anonymity is very important, even if it means taking the initiative to do something as simple as making up a username that doesn’t include the user’s own first or last name.

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