- Pinterest announced it will be enacting new safeguards meant to protect the privacy of minors using its platform, according to a company release.
- Among additions is an expanded age verification process and parental controls for those under the age of 18. Down the line, the company also plans to reintroduce messaging capabilities for teen users with an added consent requirement.
- The move follows a recent investigation by NBC News revealing how predators had been easily accessing and storing photos of young children on the app and arrives as other social media giants, like Meta and TikTok, more heavily prioritize safety.
Pinterest is the latest social media platform to announce new safety features aimed at protecting the wellbeing and privacy of its younger users, a topic that has more heavily come into focus these days despite broader struggles to gain unified support.
The efforts by the platform follow an investigation by NBC News last month that unveiled how predators online have been compiling photos of children, including toddlers, into saved collections — known on the app as “boards” — with content often involving children bending over, dancing or sticking their tongue out. The investigation also found that similar images and videos were fed to users through the app’s algorithm after interest in such content was displayed.
The investigation, which quickly gained national attention, prompted Pinterest to add new features expanding the capabilities for users to report content and accounts, and its latest safety additions seem to be building on its corrective efforts. Among changes, a more robust age verification process will bar users who previously entered their age as under 18 from editing their birth date, requiring them to send additional information to a third-party partner.
Additionally, Pinterest will soon give parents and guardians of users under age 18 the ability to require a passcode to change some account settings. The app is also bringing back its once-locked messaging capabilities for teen users, but is attempting to curb unwanted messages by requiring users to give permission. The platform recently reached 450 million global monthly active users, with Gen Z being its fastest growing user segment.
Other major social media players have recently rolled out new features focused on younger users, similarly doing so after coming under fire. Meta in January released a slew of updates that prioritize age-appropriate advertising experiences for teen users, a move that followed major scrutiny of its ad practices, which were deemed illegal under E.U. law earlier that month. ByteDance’s TikTok, which continues to face threats of a nationwide ban, announced in March a one-hour screen-time limit for users under the age of 18, along with several new parental control features.
Aside from its newly announced barriers, Pinterest also mentioned ongoing efforts designed to protect the mental wellbeing of its users, including policies against body shaming, like not allowing weight loss ads, and restricting beauty filters from altering the user’s face. The risk of potentially demoralizing content has been a major criticism of social media, recently attracting major players like Unilever’s Dove to join the conversation.