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Beware Of The Pinterest PinIt Button

July 18th, 2015

I'd like to provide a bit of advice for those new to Pinterest who are using the Pinterest browser plug-in to pin items from FAA to their Pinterest boards.

Be aware that the Pinterest browser plug-in modifies the images you see in your browser, adding to them a small red PinIt button to the upper left corner of displayed images. This makes it very easy to pin content directly to your Pinterest boards from all the web sites you visit, especially from those sites which do not provide a Pinterest button.

Be careful what you post on Pinterest from Fine Art America. FAA does not block the Pinterest browser extension from pinning site images that are not "full-sized", and that may be at odds with the desires of the artist who owns that image. Always go to the actual FAA image page and then click on the FAA Pinterest button grouped with the other social media buttons there. That way you'll know whether the artist wants their works to be placed on Pinterest. Do this with all the web sites you visit: use their built-in Pinterest buttons, if they have one, and only resort to the Pinterest browser plug-in PinIt button if there is no native Pinterest button on the site.

That's it, in a nutshell, but for those of you who are interested, what follows is how I, a new Pinterest user, trying to create my very first Pinterest board, had to figure out how this Pinterest stuff works and discover the ethical issues that can arise from pinning content to my boards from other sites.

For my first Pinterest board I decided it would be a great idea to pin my FAA favorites to a Fine Arts America Favorites board on Pinterest. The Pinterest browser plug-in made this a simple task, for all I had to do was click on the PinIt button inside the thumbnails on my favorites pages. In no time at all, I had the board done and it looked really good in the masonry layout mode on my Pinterest page.

So far, so good. However, I didn't realize that the actual FAA thumbnail image from my FAA favorites page was the image that was being placed on my Pinterest board. For some silly reason, I assumed that the 900px image from the FAA image page would be used. I didn't figure out this important piece of information until after I had created the board, populated it with my FAA favorites, and then clicked on the thumbnail in my Pinterest board for the first image. Ugh!

Okay, so the lesson learned here is that if you use the Pinterest browser plug-in, be aware that whatever the size of the image the red PinIt button appears in, that is the size of the image you'll be placing on Pinterest.

Not happy with a bunch of small thumbnails on my board, I decided to go back and do everything over again, but this time I would open each FAA image page from my favorites thumbnails and then use the Pinterest button on my browser tool bar. However, that didn't work, resulting in a polite, "Sorry, pinning is not allowed from this page. Please contact the site operator if you have any questions," message, which doesn't really tell me what the problem is.

Thinking (almost correctly, but not quite) that perhaps FAA doesn't allow pinning from the actual image pages, I noted that there is a Pinterest button grouped with all the other social media buttons there on the FAA image page. So, I need to use the FAA Pinterest button instead? I click on the FAA Pinterest button and get another error message, but this time an explicit one that stated, "This artist does not want you sharing this image on Pinterest." Well, that explains that!

But wait! Under the FAA Pinterest button it shows that this image has been shared XX amount of times on Pinterest. How did that happen if the artist doesn't allow sharing of the image on Pinterest? Then it dawned on me that the issue here was all about copyright theft. The artist felt that their images would be "stolen" on Pinterest, and may have allowed sharing with that service at one time, but has since disabled that feature.

As I sat and thought about what to do next, it occurred to me that while the large 900px pixel image on FAA was being blocked from being pinned on Pinterest, the thumbnail image was not. This appears to be an oversight on FAA's part regarding how the Pinterest browser plug-in works, and it put me into the position where I needed to determine the artists intentions. Do they simply want to block the large image from being posted on Pinterest, and possibly stolen, or do they not want their works displayed on Pinterest at all? If their intent is the latter, then I should not be posting those favorite thumbnails on Pinterest, and FAA should also be doing a better job of blocking me from doing that with the Pinterest browser plug-in.

I ended deleting everything I'd already placed onto my Pinterest FAA Favorites board, and started over, this time pinning only images from those artists that were not disabling their Pinterest button.

As a quick aside, for this is an entirely different topic, I'd like to point out that if you place anything on the Internet, including here on FAA, it can be copied, regardless what measures a site uses to try and prevent that from happening. So while not allowing ones images to be placed on Pinterest is a personal decision, if the intent is to preclude "theft" of the image, it won't stop that from happening.