Pinterest has been one of the most popular social media platforms in recent years. It has captured the hearts and minds of a staggering 83% of the US females between 25 and 54 years. But not only that, it’s reaching out to 42% of the US dads as well as over 50% of the millennials. This demonstrates the impressive influence of the social media giant, making it a firm favorite among big brands.
However, as with any other technology-enabled platform, Pinterest also has its own unique set of vulnerabilities and safety risks. And understanding these can help you protect yourself with the correct precautionary steps.
In this article, we examine the 7 most common ways you could be exposing your data on Pinterest and how you can effectively mitigate or avoid them. But before we start, let’s first discuss the reasons behind Pinterest’s immense popularity and rapid global reach.
What is driving Pinterest’s appeal?
The main reason for Pinterest’s phenomenal global appeal lies in its visual mediums. It allows users to share or pin photos, images, GIFs and even videos with a large global audience exceeding 300 million people. This visual appeal has made the platform a popular choice to share and explore trends, advice, guides and even entertainment. Pinterest offers visual content across a countless range of interests such as fashion, health and wellness, travel, technology, and home improvement to cater to the tastes and needs of a wide global audience. It’s also one of the most popular sites to research products prior to purchasing, making it a lucrative revenue-generating medium.
How are you exposing your data on Pinterest?
Let’s now examine the 7 most common ways you are compromising your safety on Pinterest and how you could protect yourself with effective measures.
- Personal data collected during the signup process
From the moment you sign up for a new account, Pinterest collects a large amount of your personal data. Information such as the name, email address, gender, and country are the first set of details collected during the signup process, which are then stored and used for various activities such as targeted advertising.
The most effective way to avoid this is by removing your account altogether. However, if you still prefer to keep your Pinterest profile, deactivate it so you can access it later. You can visit the Settings options to find out how to delete Pinterest account data or to deactivate your account.
- Linked online accounts
Pinterest will often prompt you to sign up with your Gmail or Facebook accounts or to link your Instagram, Etsy or YouTube accounts with your Pinterest profile. This allows it to connect your content across several platforms so you can easily share them on Pinterest. However, this also enables it to access personal information stored on other online platforms, such as the contacts on your Gmail account as well as your social activities.
Therefore, avoid linking other online accounts to your Pinterest profile and set up a dedicated email address for the Pinterest signup process.
- You Pinterest activities
Similar to most other social media platforms, Pinterest is constantly watching and storing data about how you engage on its platform. This means which pins you share, what you re-pin, and which boards you follow are all stored so that Pinterest could, for instance, make customized recommendations for you. However, this also means it will be able to determine your personal interests, preferences, behaviors, and likes and dislikes and, therefore, could potentially know more about you than even your best friend.
While there is no effective option to prevent this, you can control what you share or reshare so you don’t divulge any personal or confidential information. Alternatively deleting your account could provide a permanent solution.
- Your device information and activities
Pinterest could access contact lists saved on your device, your real-time device location, and even your browsing activities on other websites. However, there are several steps you can take to prevent this information from reaching the social media giant without your knowledge. For instance, Pinterest allows you to decide whether you want to provide it with access to your contact lists and browsing activities on other websites. You can also clear cache on both Pinterest and your browser to delete any stored information and deactivate location services on your device.
- Your followers
When you have an account on Pinterest, it allows anyone to follow you, visit your boards, re-share your pins and message you without any restrictions. This inevitably means that you will not personally know many of your followers. Therefore, anyone with malicious intent, whether it’s a stalker or a fraudster, could easily gain access to the content you share on your profile page. However, if you feel harassed by anyone, Pinterest provides the option to block or report the individual.
- Third-party access
Your activities on Pinterest are collected and shared with third-parties unknown to you. But not only that, anyone with a vested interest in gathering your data could set up a Pinterest account and search for your profile, share it and download your content. They can discover your profile even with a simple Google search.
There are several features provided by Pinterest under the Settings option to help you protect your data from third-party sharing. For example, it allows you to hide your Pinterest profile from search engines and prevent third-parties from tracking and sharing your activity data on their sites with Pinterest. However, there are still no features to prevent others from accessing, sharing or downloading your content. And, therefore, practicing caution when sharing content would be the best means to keep yourself safe for now.
- Your Pinterest passwords
There are several ways you could compromise the safety of your Pinterest password. For instance, sharing it with others, writing it down, using easily guessable passwords or reusing the same password across several platforms could all make your Pinterest account vulnerable to a hacking attack or unauthorized access. Therefore, setting up a strong password dedicated to your Pinterest account and protecting its confidentiality is an essential step towards your account safety.
While there are many ways you could expose your personal data and make yourself vulnerable on Pinterest, taking effective steps can help you protect your privacy and ensure data security. Moreover, practice extra caution about what, when, where and with whom you share your personal information for added safety.
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