How to Protect Your Privacy on Pinterest

January 25, 2013

Every couple of months, seemingly, the world gets up in arms about the latest changes to Facebook’s privacy policy. But Facebook isn’t the only social media site that collects and stores personal information about its network of global users.


Pinterest, the popular site that lets users share photos and images on their own pinboard-style pages, also collects personal information from its users, as do many other such sites.

According to its privacy policy, Pinterest collects and uses personal information in much the same way that Facebook does. This includes voluntary signup information like name, profile photo and email address. From there, anything that you and your fellow users then share on Pinterest is also recorded. Pinterest also logs data such as your IP address and the last site you visited before you came to Pinterest, and it also uses cookies and tracks what type of device you’re using to access Pinterest at any given time. That’s all pretty standard stuff for most websites, actually, but it may be concerning to some users.

Not unlike Facebook, Pinterest says that it collects this information to generally optimize its product offerings, while also tailoring content offerings specifically to users by sending them marketing information based on their personal information and settings. This use of personal information can include sharing it with third parties that Pinterest contracts with for certain services.

Users can mitigate the risk of sharing personal information with Pinterest by using browsers that offer settings that minimize cookies and tracking capabilities and by setting up their mobile device to limit the information it shares, including location information. One way to accomplish this is to enable the Do Not Track function in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. That sends a signal to each site that you do not want to be tracked across the Web.

The biggest privacy-related change Pinterest has made recently came late last year when the company introduced ‘secret boards.’ It used to be that nothing was private on Pinterest. Every pin could be viewed by the world, so if there were images you wanted to post on Pinterest, you had to be sure you were comfortable sharing them with complete strangers.

That’s not the case anymore. Users can now create up to three secret boards that they can access from the Web or from their mobile devices and can keep visible only to themselves or share with users that they choose.

To create a Secret Board from the web, users will scroll to the bottom of their profile and click Create a Secret Board. They can also click Add+ on the top right-hand corner of Pinterest to select Create Board, then switch on the Secret button. Mobile users will need to download the most recent version of Pinterest, either for iOS or Android. From there, access the Boards tab in Profile to add a secret board.

To learn more about Pinterest privacy, read their privacy policy.