Pinterest Censorship – The Beautiful Rebellion

A question for you; How do you censor creativity?
When you create something, do you worry about your critics? Do you ever worry about creating something that might make a child question what they see, or even potentially scar them for life? (not my words)
Hey, i will never be that cricket on your shoulder and i am certainly not the thought police, but i am interested because pinterest have been doing a lot of censoring of late. A couple of months ago, my friend posted this image:


Like me, she is an artist and comes from a liberal background. Like mine, her parents were hippies and she had a pretty interesting childhood, full of wonderful and inspiring people. My mother was a free spirit who nailed driftwood to the skirting boards around the house, stripped all the walls in the livingroom and painted abrstract nudes with large gentials on the hearth wall. There were framed sketches from her life drawing classes in the hallway. Nudity was never seen as a dirty or bad thing. I remember coming home from school one day and she announced that we were no longer wearing shoes in the house anymore, after she had removed all the carpets from downstairs- the same day she decided to strip the walls of paper and begin her ‘abstract project’. This was not for any religious purpose, you understand, but because she had impulses that simply could not be ignored!

When Laura (her real name) posted this image, she thought nothing of it. I know she had been working on a project that involved this sort of imagery, so was using the site correctly (if there is a correct way to use it). When i pin things to boards in my studio, i certainly don’t think of others judging my inspiration or tastes. Why should i? This is my work and it’s personal. If we all left out the gritty parts, art would be sterile.
A woman, let’s call her Mary, left her a comment simply saying ‘Pervert’. After far too much tooing and frowing, she came to the conclusion that we were filthy reprobates who should be stopped immediately before we poluted the squeeky clean minds of the viewing public. Her parting shot involved us working with starving children in Africa, rather than looking at these pictures and hopefully one day, we would find Jesus. I wish i could post a link, but pinterest deleted the image shortly after the climax of the three day long debate.

I did a quick search to see if anyone else had faced this problem and it didn’t take long to find someone who had experienced a similar situation Censored on Pinterest: Is Kate Moss’s Nipple Really Inappropriate? Megan is obviously incensed about this, and rightly so! I remember both of Kate Moss’ nipples being everywhere in the 90’s and i come from a country where we have a page in a newspaper, dedicated to a woman’s bare breasts – Page 3.

Many art communities have filters. I have been an active member of Deviant Art for nine years now and have seen the community change a great deal in this time. Like any community, it includes those with mild and extreme tastes with members and contributors of all ages. They have a filtering option where responsible artists can put an age restriction on their works if they see fit to do so.
I understand that children may use this site, but there are people who have accounts on pinterest dedicated to erotica. Should they be stopped? I don’t think so, but do you? I am a strong believer in keeping children as innocent for as long as possible, because there are so many pressures on them nowadays and they are expected to grow up so quickly. I am quite sure i will write a lot about that, but for now, i will stick to my subject. Since they are in the early stages of their ‘filtering process’, i decided to contact them about an image that was removed from my account and give my feedback, which i hoped would help. The image in question was Pinocchio’s Face in the pubic region of a man’s body. The concept is obvious and being a tattoo artist, i found it funny, as did a few fellow tattooists. After all, we have all tattooed that funny guy, who had a brilliant concept, which will be the jewel on our portfolio’s crown for many a year to come. This was one of those tattoos. Pinterest removed it, even though there was no actual nudity, the concept was enough to shock. They had been very accomidating up until then and always replied in person. I received a stock email, which i replied to immediately.

I waited for a reply but didn’t receive one and i must admit, i was surprised. In conclusion, i believe they have a great idea and it has become very successful but have maybe their original concept was a little idealistic. I have invested a great deal of time in Pinterest and follow some great individuals, but there is no platform for debate or discussion, apart from the comment box and once the pin has been removed, the comments are removed along with it. I suggested a forum as a solution to all this, but again, no reply.

So finally, can artists and children mix online, are filters the way to go or do you believe that deleting research material without asking the owner should be allowed? Should pinterest have a mother account entitled ‘Things you CAN pin’? Is Pinterest a community about your taste and how long will it be before the things we are pinning are in fact, not our taste at all?


13 thoughts on “Pinterest Censorship – The Beautiful Rebellion

  1. *Mum read this first and then Cookie and then me. Fuck, this made us all cry so much with laughter. It is mainly the vision of your mum running around with the boaby stick, shouting at you for not having any shoes on. I hope you’ll tell the whole story because its hilarious. Don’t let this be the last story you tell about your childhood. Every single one has me in stitches no matter how many times i hear them.

    *With pinterest, i just don’t know what to say about it because it was such a bizzare experience. I only really folllow you and Cookie now to be honest. I wouldn’t say i am particularly controversial but i do think that there are people on there who are getting away with a lot if there is so much censorship. The Stormtrooper thing really annoyed me and Bloody Mary just ground my gears. people like her will never understand people like us. I don’t wish her any harm but i wish there was a place to discuss this stuff. It’s pathetic that they just come in and delete your so-called inspiring images. I agree it is in its early stages but they should have thought about censorship before they allowed a load of creative people to come in and pin whatever they want. If i ever met a well behaved artist, i have definitely put them to the back of my mind. All the greats were rebels and into some pretty funky shit.

    I hope that Megan girl gets back to you because i’m pretty sure you have some shared ground there. It would be interesting to see what she says about it and if others have experienced the same frustration. xxxxxxx

    • Haha i think i’ll leave the full story ’til later! She didn’t shout at me for not having shoes on, she shouted at me for having my shoes on. People still talk about the muddy field – karate kid day!

      I think it was more of a shock because none of us thought we had done anything wrong. If we had pinned something from, i would have understood their anger and frustration, but it wasn’t that bad. We all discussed controversial imagery at college and uni and i was doing life drawing classes as 16. What age were you?

      I’d like to see if they reply to the email. Did you write yours?

  2. Well, I think that Pinterest is trying it’s hardest to become the #1 website of it’s kind…so they are trying very hard to be as “pc” as they can be. What’s pc to them? They try to keep away from anything that the squeakier wheels might deem to be offensive. This will eventually be their demise. I’ve seen other Pinterest-like sites that are not as focused on censorship.

    Don’t get me wrong…I do like Pinterest. I am not much of a “pinnner.” I mostly “repin” the entries that I find interesting.

    • I think their plan is admirable but feel they may have been a little too trusting. It’s just so hard to believe they didn’t think that some people might find human flesh interesting!
      I did try to question their own personal ideas about what they found to be acceptable, but no reply yet. It’s a busy time of year, so i am hoping they will get back to me eventually. The fact that it seems to be family run, i expect they all share similar values, so there may never be any room to pin anything above PG.

      I agree about it being their demise if they continue to do this because people just don’t like having the finger pointed at them.

      I would like to say that i do use the site because i find it useful because of what i do. I would probably use it a lot more if i was free to decide what i pinned… FILTH, Darling, pure FILTH! – only kidding! haha

  3. “Can artists and children mix online…?” It’s not children that are the problem, it’s dickhead adults terrified of confronting their own sexualities. An excellent post – thanks.


    • philscorzonera, I originally read your post wrong, so if an email comes through with a long arsey reply, i am so sorry. A lesson has been learned about blogging under the influence of homemade wine!

      I agree entirely but i do think there needs to be a controlled censorship option on a growing site like Pinterest. Too may people are oversensitive on that site, which i understand. I myself feel strongly about keeping kids the way they are (as i said in the post).

      I did say to the woman who bitterly complained about the Stormtrooper image about her own repressed sexuality and there was very little argument there. She was terrified and i think that is very sad!


      • Thanks for including the link to my post and sharing my story! Been thinking more about this. It does seem very arbitrary the way Pinterest censors. In my case, I had one user on my case about how inappropriate the post was…commenting on it until it was removed. Perhaps she “reported” the pin and that is how it came to the attention of Ben and his team at Pinterest. I would be happy to tage certain images as NSFW…this allowing other users to filter out such material, but the removal of my pin was pretty egregious!

      • (ooops, duplicate post – this one has typos removed:) Thanks for including the link to my post and sharing my story! Been thinking more about this. It does seem very arbitrary the way Pinterest censors. In my case, I had one user on my case about how inappropriate my post was…commenting on it until it was removed. Perhaps she “reported” the pin and that is how it came to the attention of Ben and his team at Pinterest?? I would be happy to tag certain images as NSFW…thus allowing other users to filter out such material, but the removal of my pin was pretty egregious!

      • Hi Megan! So nice to talk to you after all this time. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. I wanted to read your post again and even now, the whole thing irks me. I have just read Kaitlin Pike’s post and i think i may write a follow up to this.

        Your image of Kate was not offensive to me in the slightest and if we look to the catwalk and conventional art, there is nudity in abundance which is of course, is always under scrutiny but your image was nothing other than a bold statement, displaying the natural form. I understand that people want their children to be protected but to set them loose on a site that allows anyone the freedom to pin any picture from any website seems a little naive to me, even now. I won’t go into a feminist rant, but i’ll never tire of making the point that women’s bodies are over-sexualised and under-appreciated.

        The Stormtrooper image has also been repinned since i wrote this and far more graphic and erotic images than that, as you have experienced yourself. Some of the people i follow have several erotic boards on the go, which doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I do understand that people are sensitive to this kind of thing, which is fine but when will certain members of the online community understand that certain comments can be just as offensive, even to the open-minded?

        In a way, i am glad that pinterest have added the flag feature, but i agree that adding a NSFW tag or some kind of filter system would be the best thing for everyone involved. It might even be helpful to enable private boards?

  4. Pingback: NSFW nor for Pinterest: A study in pinning boobs « i write good;

  5. It’s wierd because i have a board full of porn. And I follow several porn boards…. I’ve never expirienced banning of any kind. That sucks, just like FB deleting pictures of the human body!

    • Sorry this is such a late reply, Harmony, but i was wondering if maybe Pinterest have been relaxing their rules a lot more this year, since it has come out of beta and properly set free on the internet. It seems to be a totally different site since they first started. I was there from the beginning and people were pretty judgemental, but mainly i think because a lot of people really were using it for recipes and had some strange idea that everyone would have a universally ‘clean’ idea about what was acceptable. I think your ‘Plásticas’ board is beautiful, but hey, as you say, it’s the human body. Why get all upset about it? I’ve also experienced a similar thing with FB in the past, but i don’t use it anymore. Too much drama and too many restrictions!

      • I think they are relaxing their rules a bit. Also, if somebody reports or flags your image, this might have something to do with it as well. I’m pretty sure that the image I pinned that was deleted has been pinned by other people since, however I had received complaints on mine from one person who apparently was offended.

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