Pinterest Spam I Am (Not)!

by Liesl Clark

Welcome to Trash Backwards, home of what Pinterest has recently labeled “spam or other inappropriate content”. While we can connect you with some good ideas for ways you can reuse your spam tins, we don’t believe our ideas and articles are inappropriate or spam on their own. Here’s our story:

In March, we set up a Trash Backwards account at Pinterest. In two months, we’ve garnered 0ver 2500 followers on our most popular boards, 1100 Pinterest users following our entire account, 1800 pins and 15,700 repins. We love Pinterest, not least of all because it helps us prove our curated content about how to reuse, repurpose, regift, or even refuse to buy-new the stuff of our everyday lives is of interest to Pinterest users. From the hundreds of reuse options for pallets, wine corks, mason jars, and T-shirts to the smart home hacks reusing bread clips, silica gel, and toilet paper rolls, our followers are engaged in sharing these transformative tips, DIY projects, and smart solutions.

We’re not selling anything on Pinterest, nor do we participate in any affiliate programs with sites such as Amazon. In fact, not only are we not selling anything, we’re working to get people to stop buying new items and throwing out old ones. Trash Backwards is the hub of a movement providing solutions for our world’s excessive waste. We’re developing a mobile app to enable users worldwide to upcycle, repurpose, fix, sell, donate, or pass along just about anything under the sun. We have been utilizing Pinterest’s enticing pinboards to connect people with reuse solutions for items of all kinds, and we love the immediate feedback from followers on our pins.

We also occasionally pin our own original content about reducing, reusing, repurposing and rethinking our everyday trash. We publish approximately two new posts to our website per week and then pin one or two images to a board or two per post, amidst the hundreds of other wonderful pages of reuse ideas we find on the web or through Pinterest.

About 10 days ago, without warning, all of our pins to our own content were converted from live links to our site to a screen that looks like this:

This impacted every pin and repin to our site. We received no warning from Pinterest. We discovered it when we went looking for an explanation to the sudden death of traffic from these pins to our site. On the plus side for Pinterest, it appears that their new spam filters work well to stop traffic to suspect sites. On the downside for us, we truly don’t believe that there is anything spammy or inappropriate to our original content.

It took 2 messages to Pinterest’s Help Desk and 5 days to get a response, which was simply an automated response to our second message indicating the problem was “solved.” But the problem has not been solved completely, as far as we can see. It appears that we are now able to pin our own content without being flagged as spam flag, but there’s one important consequence that has not been addressed as of this writing. Each of our pins that was flagged as spam/inappropriate content still carries this warning, and we have no way to delete or edit the repins. We can delete our own flagged pins of our own content from our own boards,  but only Pinterest has the power to remove the flags from the repins of our original pins. For now, our Trash Backwards pins are out there marked as “spam or other inappropriate content”, and there is nothing we can do to restore our good name.

this pin is flagged as “spam or other inappropriate content”

Spam I Am (Not): We promise we aren’t spam. At Trash Backwards, we want you to buy nothing. Enrich your life by reusing what you already have. This is personal for us. We have pictures of our own kids on our site, complete with documentary shorts we’ve filmed all over the world to educate others about the planet’s crises of too much waste.

We’re not giving up on Pinterest; we plan to persevere. Since we can’t delete the repins of our so-called spam, we tried to create a new board called “Spam I Am (Not)!” We wanted a way to corral all our spam-labelled pins, taking them off our popular boards. Unfortunately, while others can repin our flagged content, we cannot move it ourselves. So, what’s an un-spammer to do? PINgineers, please help us! We do love Pinterest, but we’d love to see authentic original content treated as such, not labeled as spam or inappropriate.

If you believe your pins have been inappropriately flagged by Pinterest, please let us know. We’d love to put our heads together to further understand how individuals and organizations can deal with this. If you are a Pinterest engineer who can help us fix this, please see our most recent support ticket #134083. We’re looking forward to the resolution of this matter to everyone’s benefit.

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Categories: Trash Pile - All Our Stuff


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14 Comments on “Pinterest Spam I Am (Not)!”

  1. Catherine
    May 1, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Crazy that this happened to your site. It is one of my favorites on Pinterest and certainly not filled with anything spammy or inappropriate. I hope Pinterest restores it’s healthy state again ASAP!

    • Rebecca Rockefeller
      May 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

      Thank you, Catherine! We really appreciate your support. We’re hopeful that Pinterest will help us sort this out.

  2. Cherie
    May 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    I am one of your Pinterest followers and I love your pins! I hope this gets resolved!

    • Rebecca Rockefeller
      May 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

      Thank you, Cherie! We’re hoping for the same thing!

  3. May 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    This just happened to me @ I’m upset because there’s nothing spammy about it! It’s just food!

    • May 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

      We’re so sorry you’ve been caught up in this, too! If we figure out how to fix this, or hear from Pinterest in response to our requests for help, we’ll definitely pass along whatever we learn.

  4. May 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    You an add my site as a victim of this spamapalooza by pinterest. Links to my etsy shop are fine, but not to my site.

    • Rebecca Rockefeller
      May 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

      Suzie, I’m so sorry you’ve been flagged as well. We’re still waiting to hear back from Pinterest, but we’re hopeful they’ll sort this out. We’ll keep you posted when we learn anything!

  5. June 12, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Yup, I’ve fallen victim to the giant Anti-SPAM-Bot of Pinterest! They seem to have written a new program to target anybody that isn’t a major commercial site or an etsy shop. And all my personal pins were flagged. Yes, I’m self promoting, yes, I’m selling something, but I am a cottage craftsperson selling my own hand crafted shoe clips (I have exactly 38 pairs for sale) and decoupaged ballet pointe shoes (11 pairs). I am not a major commercial interest or high volume spammer. And I’m proud of my DIY capabilities, and want to share those on Pinterest. I’m pissed! Maybe we need a new site: Pissederest?

  6. June 22, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Just heard back on an email I sent Pinterest about 2 months ago (on an unrelated topic), and took advantage of hearing from an actual person to shoot back this reply:

    [And would also like to know] “what are you good folks (and incredibly overworked and exhausted folks!) are doing about the over-robust ‘flagging as SPAM’ issue, as per trashbackwards {link}?

    And my concern isn’t just for non-commercial sites like theirs. I am an extremely small scale crafter, much too small to even justify the expense of an etsy site. I like to share my latest creations on my boards. Those pins are being blocked as spam, while I understand that people with etsy stores are not having their pins blocked. It seems like Pinterest is having a hard time coming up with a logarithm that accurately separates the “Lose weight now – ask me how” pins from the “Look at this great DIY project I just made . . . and sell” pins.

    Which leaves some of us feeling it’s not fair to decree that etsy based crafters are somehow more legitimate than the rest of us. And leaves us wondering why you have that nice little price banner function if nobody is supposed to post things for sale – did you really think people would use it to let their followers know about the cute little dress they just saw at H&M for only $29?????

    I would so appreciate knowing what the current company thinking is on this issue. Thank you!”

    Doubt I’ll hear anything, but just wanted you to know your campaign is being heard by some of us!

  7. June 26, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Just got a reply from a real live person at Pinterest regarding my ^e-mail, as follows:

    “Thanks for passing along the Trashbackwards article. It looks like pins that lead to Trashbackwards are functioning properly. For example:

    We’re always working to prevent spam, and it’s possible that we blocked Trashbackwards because its links were redirecting through one site before landing on another. Our current efforts are focused on blocking redirects that may be abused by spammers and we manually review cases to identify redirects that consistently point to safe content. We are constantly evolving these and other policies and practices as the community and our service grows. . . .”

    Fingers crossed . . .

    • Rebecca Rockefeller
      June 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Ellen! We still haven’t heard anything from Pinterest in response to any of our help requests, so this is news to us. Strangely, none of our flagged pins redirected from one site then to another (we’re very careful about what we pin), and the repins of our pins are still flagged as spam. I think the repins make things complicated, and I’m happy to know that Pinterest is looking into the unintended impact of their spam filters. Yes, fingers crossed that they sort things out.

  8. July 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    We are having that problem with our Facebook page too.

    • July 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      We’re sorry to hear this! We’ll post here if we ever hear from Pinterest, and hopefully there will be something helpful to you in the comments here from other people in the same boat.

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