A little over a year ago, everybody started freaking out about Pinterest's new porn problem. "Officially, there is no porn on Pinterest," Business Insider's Jim Edwards declared at the time. "But there is porn on Pinterest, and it appears to be a growing problem." Oh noes! There's porn on the Internet?!
Of course there is, and there's really nothing anybody can do to stop it. So Thursday, with nuanced fanfare Pinterest decided it wants to try and change its official no-porn policy and let people pin pics of boobs and things, so long as the images are, uhm, artistic. "Pinterest is about expressing your passions and people are passionate about art and that may include nudes," Pinterest told the Financial Times. "So we're going to try to accommodate that."
Good idea! Just like the insufferable trend of startups creating so-called Pinterests for everything under the sun, including more than one "Pinterest for Porn," this trend of people posting sexy shots and whatnot is not going to stop. Vine was the most recent major social media site to cope with its porn problem. Facebook employs hundreds of employees to pull down the dick pics users upload on a daily basis. Once you start digging into it, Tumblr is basically all porn — among other disturbing NSFW themes. And Twitter, well, Twitter's porn problem has ruined more than one political career.
With the exception of Tumblr who takes the laissez faire approach to porn (so long as there aren't any kiddies on there) many of these kinds of services have gone in the direction of moderation. Not Pinterest. They're going to "try to accommodate" the artistic smut. We're guessing the hardcore stuff will fall under Pinterest's current policy forbidding "nudity, partial nudity or pornography."
But what does that even mean? First of all, Pinterest spokesman Barry Schnitt told Gizmodo that the request actually came from the users:
Pinners have asked us for a policy on nudity that makes a distinction between works of art and things like pornography. A change like that poses a lot of questions. We're working our way through those questions but we don't have any additional details to offer just yet.
That said, Pinterest's making an attempt at accommodating arty nudie pics is not the same thing as actually allowing arty nudie pics. Second, how in the world are they going to draw the line between artistic porn and porny porn? Pictures of nipples with soft focus and raking light is okay but straight on pee-in-vee definitely gets yanked? Regardless of your definition of artistic, there's certainly some content on Pinterest that's straight up porn [NSFW obviously].
Google went through this whole art-versus-porn conundrum just a month or so ago, when the very provocative video for Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" got yanked in a hurry. While some argued that the naked dancing girls therein served as an artistic purpose, YouTube scrambled to justify the removal of the content. While the official policy states that anything "intended to be sexually provocative" will be taken down, the company assured its users that it wasn't banning nudity altogether but was leaving it up to moderators to apply the "I know it when I see it" rule. Gizmodo's own Peter Ha reports:
Once a video is flagged for nudity and/or sex and depending on the nature of the scenes involved, one of three things happens once the humans at YouTube have given it a look:
A) Nothing! The video stays up.
B) If the scenes in question are deemed artistic then YouTube puts an age gate in place.
C) If it crosses the line, then it gets taken down.
Again, it's unclear how Pinterest will draw the line. The vague quotes Pinterest offered to the press this week, however, feel more like marketing than anything, especially in the wake of the recent Yahoo!-Tumblr deal. "Hey guys," the site seems to be saying. "We're listening to you. If you're afraid of Yahoo! yanking your moody sex shots, just bring your photos over here and pretend it's art." Of course, in the age of the Instagram filter, the line is increasingly blurred—and blurry.