Pinterest's Spam Problems Are Getting Worse

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After making a public announcement a couple weeks ago about its spam problem, Pinterest has only seen more money-making schemes develop around its potentially lucrative set-up. 

In an April 13 blog post, Pinterest acknowledged its spam issues, explaining its ever-improving Spam-fighting technology and overall effort to make things better. Since that time, commenters have continued posting their complaints, noting a rise in spammy posts. Just the other day, this blogger, who doesn't frequent Pinterest often, received an e-mail Spam notification for a weight loss scam that the Internet says has taken over the social networking site. And today, The Next Web's Nancy Messiah explains another Spam-ish money maker, PinDollars, which attaches affiliate links onto pins. Pinterest’s popularity has inspired people to find one way or another to capitalize on its growth. And a little "report pin" button isn't stopping that spam community growth.

All well-trafficked social media sites draw spammers trying to reel in unsuspecting users. Pinterest is indeed "killing it," with 104 million hits on March. And already working and looking a lot like Tumblr, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Pinterest has attracted both the porn and spam that abetted Tumblr's "meteoric rise." Of course, Facebook and Twitter have varying degrees of spam, too. But more than other social networks, Pinterest, with its retail heavy focus, has the potential to draw money hungry spammers. 

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A lot of the spam is relatively benign, more of an annoyance than harmful. The spam we've encountered on the site knows its audience, stereotyped as a bunch of shopping-crazed midwestern women. It's a lot of dieting and retail deals -- things that might entice a bored fashion obsessed woman residing in a flat flyover state. "Here is a tip to all my female Pinterest friends! ... this article shows perfectly how I have eliminated 27 lbs last month!," read the e-mail spam this writer received the other day. An obvious spam message, it was promptly deleted. This PinDollars thing even bills itself as useful to Pinners, giving them money kickbacks off affiliate links, which earn a small amount of money each time they lead to an Internet purchase. 

But, not all of it is so harmless. First, it's an annoyance that one commenter finds threatening enough to leave the site. "It's getting to the point I think a lot of people, including myself, are going to stop using pinterest soon if the spam thing doesn't get better..." writes commenter SJR. For those thinking Pinterest might help grow business, however, spam has caused a sort of reputation problem. Retailer Michelle DiFilippo-Espinoza, who owns jewelry line Minali, told The Daily Dot, she lost sales because of a spam impersonator. "People thought I was not a legitimate business" she said, after explaining spammers had copied and attached viruses to her pin. "I lost sales because of it and had to rebuild and regain trust in the Internet community," she continued.

As a retail focused site, Pinterest's not only more susceptible to drawing parasites who want a piece of this not-yet profitable e-commerce pie, but it also has the potential to scare away its core. Both shoppers and retailers like the site for its easy-to-use and pretty interface. If the spam problem continues, however, neither buyers or sellers will trust the site with the business. And then how will Pinterest make money? 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.