Several days ago I logged into my Pinterest account. Quite many messages were waiting for me in the Messages tab.
All of them were claiming that X or Y sent me a pin. Geez, everyone suddenly started to spam me?
Very unlikely. I said to myself, “There’s something fishy here, Pinterest.”
So I took a break and I pinned something to a group board that I created.
Huge surprise… I got a message that claimed that I sent a pin. It even had the option of reporting it as spam. Kind of reporting myself for the spam I didn’t send.
I kept investigating the issue and I discovered that the other contributor who is allowed to pin to my board got the message “Adrian Jock sent you a pin.” What a lie!
So the first discovery was that there’s only one spammer behind this spam: Pinterest. Not only a spammer, but also a liar.
Very dangerous spam. Some people who don’t know us will get such spam messages that appear to be sent by us and won’t further investigate the issue. They will think that we are spammers.
I kept investigating…
I saved one more pin. This time to a group board created by someone else. No message received this time. It was not so clear when Pinterest sends that spam.
So I contacted Pinterest…
1. Pinterest View on the Messaging Spam
The only reply I got so far to my help request was this automatic message:
“A member of our team will review your message as soon as possible. While we’re always working hard to make Pinterest better for you, we’re currently unable to respond individually to every message we receive. Rest assured we’re always listening and frequently resolving issues and making improvements based on what we read in emails like this one.”
Wonderful! So I posted a message on their Facebook page, asking how I can opt out of their spam. Other people posted similar complaints. Some of them got replies from Pinterest. Nonsense replies such as this one:
“We’ve introduced this new feature that allows you to easily collaborate with other Pinners on group boards. The goal of this is to inspire you to easily share and talk about your ideas.”
A pre-written message copied and pasted there, not relevant and not responding to the actual complaint.
2. The Group Chat Feature. Available Only to Certain Group Boards
After more investigations, I discovered that the spam “X sent you a pin” is part of the group chat feature.
We cannot turn off this feature, but I found out that the feature isn’t available to all group boards. According to this Pinterest help page (Update, April 12, 2017: Pinterest removed from that page the reference to the group chat feature):
“People who are actively collaborating on smaller projects (groups with 20 collaborators or fewer) can use Pinterest’s new group chat feature to discuss the ideas you’re all saving in real time.”
See the text that I underlined? The solutions are hidden there.
If a group board has at least 21 collaborators, the chat feature isn’t available anymore. No more Pinterest spam in the Messages tab. No more chat bubbles on the left side. No more annoying “X saved a pin to the Y group board” notifications in the “You” tab.
3. How to Stop the Spam Sent by Pinterest
Step 1. How to identify how many collaborators a group board has
Open the board page. Under the title of the board, on the right side you’ll see several profile pictures of collaborators. When there are many collaborators and there is not enough space for their profile pictures, you’ll also see a certain number (10 in the example below). Add that number to the number of profile pictures and that’s the total number of collaborators (3+10=13 in the example below).
Step 2. How to actually stop the spam
a) Ask Pinterest to stop the spam. Tell them your opinion by using their group chat feedback form. Update, April 12, 2017: Pinterest removed the feedback form from the help section.
I sent my feedback. Some of my friends did it too. The more we are, the more chances we have. Maybe. Till then…
b) ask the owner of the group board to get more collaborators
c) if the owner allows it, invite some of your friends in order to get more collaborators
If none of the above works, you have two other options:
d) if your only concern is the spam sent on your behalf by Pinterest, stop pinning to the group boards that have 20 collaborators or fewer until the group becomes bigger and Pinterest disables the chat group option.
e) if everything related to the group chat bothers you, then remove yourself from the small group boards.
4. Update, September 28, 2016: New Pinterest Response
Pinterest has just responded to my help request though:
“We’ve introduced a new feature that allows you to easily collaborate with other Pinners on group boards. With this change, anytime you save a Pin to a group board that Pin will also be sent in a message to the other collaborators on the board. The goal of this is to inspire you to easily share and talk about your ideas.
This feature is for all pre-existing group boards with 20 or fewer collaborators and for all new group boards. You will see a chat bubble icon on the top your group boards that allows you to easily talk with everyone on the board.
Right now, there isn’t a way to turn off this feature or the notifications with it but you can leave the group board and you’ll no longer receive group chats or if you’re the creator of the board you can block people you don’t want on the board.
You can send us your feedback on this feature here.”
The same nonsense that doesn’t respond to the actual spam complaint. However, the response includes a new piece of information: the new group boards get the group chat feature irrespective of the number of collaborators. Bad news indeed.
So if you join a new group board, you can’t stop Pinterest spam. The only thing you can do is to send your feedback using the form mentioned above under the sub-headline no. 3 (step 2, first bullet).
To your Pinterest success!
P.S. Yes, the Pinterest platform belongs to Pinterest and we are just guests. And you may say that Pinterest can do whatever it wants. Don’t jump so fast to such a conclusion …
We have legal rights and Pinterest has restrictions resulted from such rights. If Pinterest wants to send various messages on its behalf and I can unsubscribe from them, that’s OK. But sending spam that no one can unsubscribe from and pretending that it was sent by us is far from being OK.