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Seriously Pintrest! A Meta Tag to Stop Pinning?
Written by Terry Van Horne
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 05:52

Yesterday I received a skype call from Paul Anthony a long time Dojo Member and fellow Microshaft Dev (he's gone on to better things as well). Paul came to me to bounce something off me that he had discovered about Pinterest. I kind of laughed and suggested he speak to Steve Gerencser fellow Regulator mate and Pinterest Marketer ie: Steve knows enough about Pinterest to actually write about it from experience. Unlike most of what's been written about marketing on Pinterest to date.

During the call Paul showed me an article on Venturebeat about Pinterest using a meta tag to protect owners rights to content being pinned on Pinterest. Seriously Pinterest! Do you think that a meta tag is going to stop people from pinning content they are not supposed to? It could, except that it's a bookmarlet, and the only way you can protect that is to check your incoming data. It is easy to write a bookmarklet to do it.


Apparently Pinterest hadn't considered someone might get around the bookmarklet and meta tag. I think Pinterest should also be crawling the net to find the sites if they are going to use something as flimsy as a meta tag. If not crawling the entire web, at least Flikr and the sites Pinterest is most interested in protecting. Actually it might be simpler to have an opt out page. Or something like a robots.txt. This would give the ability to block at the image level.

By the way, I was able to take the same picture off of Flikr from a different page than the page the author had missed the meta tag on. Showing it might be a little confusing to implement as well. Paul was going to post on his blog (web distortion definitely add it to your reader!) that kind of sums up using this tag to protect your work. Here is an excerpt from Paul's post:

My own thoughts in the discussion were as follows:

“This is the Internet. You can’t remove piss from a swimming pool.

Take the red pill, publish the goddamn photo. Make it as simple to share as possible, but ask people to pay for it. If anything this obstacle is more likely to give rise to workarounds and hacks that Pinterest users will circumvent.”

To echo other comments in the discussion – ‘if you don’t want something copied, don’t make it digital’. – You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

The internet has provided a new distribution model where quality rises to the top, and everything from music sales to photography has had to toe the line.

Either you make it easily sharable, or prepare for the inevitable pitfall of vanishing into the ether.

I’ve stated openly in the past that I embrace the copying of the material on Webdistortion to third party sites. I relinquish ownership for increased exposure – a side effect of publishing material that many bloggers will already be aware of. It works.

Contrary to popular belief, folks online do pay for stuff, and we don’t want everything for free. Take comedian Louis CK, who recently published one of his shows for $5 – taking payments via PayPal. The release was hugely successful for two reasons. Firstly, the price point itself was disruptive, and a viral talking point in its own right. Secondly he embraced the distribution channels of the web. He walked away with over $1million in sales.

Fundamentally once a web browser views an image, that’s it. It’s downloaded to the user's machine. If you really want to share it on Facebook, Pin it, or copy it you can. There are ways and means of inspecting the source code to find the original, and although the average Pinterest user may not be technically savvy enough to get around the issue, there are plenty of people out there with the technical chops to solve the problem.

You See, all Paul and I are doing is showing that this "protection" is not anymore of a protection than keeping honest people honest, which, the copyright on the page should suffice for those people. Mainly we want to bring the ease to which this was exploited to the attention of any users on Flikr and elsewhere who may have a false sense of security. Continue monitoring exactly as you were cuz this is not any kinda' protection at all!

In my opinion, which may not be Paul's, SNC's, Reliable SEO, or my partner David Harry's opinion, but, I believe Pinterest run their site like a mom and pop shop when they are a Social site of scale which should be truly transparent in everything it does. Period. Pinterest has been caught skimming affiliate links and not been very open about their monetization plans.

Usually you will see at the bottom of the page if the content can be pinned, however, "all rights reserved" means it is appropriate to ask before pinning. Most sites will grant permission they just want to know where their content is going up. Pinterest users: when you are pinning take the time to find out if it is "appropriate" use of the content.

Paul made an excellent point about people paying for quality. ITune's success is an example of how new age digital distribution is disrupting the old models. I am surprised to see people on Flikr embracing "protectionist" ideals, and I do understand their position, but... it is what it is.

There are better ways to benefit from your work and often if it is worthy the Interwebs pay what it's worth or more! Ya' just gotta' be as innovative as the payment platforms allow. Do not try to profit from a new age medium using an old distribution system that is based on honor or people understanding that just because it is on the Internet you are not free to do with it as you like.

Terry Van Horne -

Terry is an old school SEO/IM geek that works out of International Website Builders and the founder of - You can also hook up with him on Twitter. It seems he's become a regular here on the Trail... so I wanted to, once more, give a great big THANKs to T for hanging out and sharing his experiences.

You can also hook up via


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0 #1 d&D ideas 2012-03-14 08:13
Um.... has anyone else noticed that Pinterest is fast becoming one of those social media sites that only website owners and SEO's are using?
Hope it gets some real users soon because I quite enjoy how little time it takes to use :D

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