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It seems like just a few weeks ago that Pinterest shone in the role of social media darling. SEOs and internet marketers loved it. All of the blogs were talking about it. Even big corporations were taking a serious look. And, from the perspective of an end user, I loved it. You could spend hours perusing images of cute kids, epic tree houses, and faraway places. The innocent part of me thought, “This is wonderful.” The jaded part of me thought, “It’s only a matter of time until profiteers ruin it.”
Ladies and gentlemen, that time has come.
Spam Has Taken Over Pinterest
If you’re a regular Pinterest user, you’ve seen it. The spammers and bots have taken over Pinterest entirely. For every legitimate pin on the Everything board, there are five spammy ones. Take a look at this screenshot of the Everything Kids board, taken a few minutes ago:
There are a couple of legitimate pins here, but most of them are spam attempting to drive traffic to sites running Adsense ads. You can spot these pins fairly easily, as they exhibit some commonalities:
- It’s usually a stock photo of something cute or gross or striking, to grab your attention
- The comment that comes with the pin is a tagline of some sort, hoping to get you to click.
- The Pinner accounts have names that seem made up, like “Agnes Strange” and “Willa Golla”.
- Their boards all have the same name. In this case, “Kids”.
This is too much volume, too fast, to be a single person or small group of people that are beating the system. No, clearly there are lots of spammers, and they’re being aided with bots.
Confessions of a Pinterest Exploiter
An interesting article on Mashable interviews a confessed Pinterest spammer, who has been exploiting the site since February to make thousands of dollars through Amazon affiliates. He has thousands of spambots pinning things on Pinterest at any given time. In the past couple of months he’s cleared as much as $1900 a day.
This is just one person whose exploits were highlighted in the news. You can just imagine how many people are doing the same and getting away with it. I’m told that there are organizations that sell Pinterest bots specifically for spamming the site with thousands of pins.
The Loss of A Powerful Social Media Tool
Pinterest, for its part, seems unable to stop the onslaught of attacks. The site is literally unusable right now. Not only do very few legitimate pins make the big boards, but don’t bother going there to browse for new content. Spammy posts are all over the boards. It’s sickening. As a Pinterest user, I’m heartbroken to have to walk away.
As a developer, I’m acutely disappointed at the loss of such a promising marketing tool. Pinterest was unique because it had a new, visually-centric take on social media. And its majority demographic is an ideal target market for many companies. The idea of connecting with a company or service provider on Pinterest is rather appealing – you can browse around and see what they have to offer, without constantly being asked to “Like” them on Facebook.
There were many, many internet marketers and SEOs working quietly on building web presences for clients with Pinterest as a cornerstone strategy. But most didn’t abuse it.
Sadly, these bot developers, spammers, and exploiters have ruined Pinterest for all of us.