Thursday, September 24, 2020

Pinterest is Fun, But There Are Privacy Risks

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Pinterest is a unique social media site, using visuals such as images, GIFs, and videos as its mainstream of data sharing. With its user base expanding now more than ever, using Pinterest to discover new ideas is one of the hottest trends on the Internet. Using the theme of visual discovery of information, more than 335 million active monthly users use Pinterest to discover new ideas such as recipes, interior design, quotes, and many more. 

With new ideas every time you scroll through your Pinterest home feed, browsing through friends’ pins, and sharing your own boards, using Pinterest can be a whole lot of fun. But like all other social media sites, Pinterest too is not immune to privacy and cybersecurity threats. While it is not as big a social media site as Facebook or Instagram, Pinterest has proved to be an attractive place for scammers and hackers.

Because it doesn’t seem like typical social media sites, scams, or privacy threats are difficult to spot; hence, many privacy risks still exist. In their privacy policy, Pinterest state that although they work to protect the security of their user’s data, they cannot guarantee that a third party will not be able to access your information by defeating Pinterst’s security measures. In such a situation, users should make sure they know what exactly are the privacy risks they face and how to delete Pinterest when they want. 

Pinterest

The Top Pinterest Security and Privacy Issues

Here are some of the security and privacy issues on Pinterest you should know about:

  • Scam Pins:

If you have not yet used Pinterest or are new to it, you might be thinking that you are safe from all the typical scam attempts found on other social media sites. But this, unfortunately, isn’t true. Lately, there have been countless reports of scam pins advertising “Amazing weight-loss techniques,” or “Free gift cards” pins that take you to a scam website asking you to fill a survey with personal information, download malware or share the pin forward.

To avoid scam pins like this, you should pay attention to the URL with every pin, which is located at the bottom left of a pin; simply avoid any pin that leads to an unofficial or fishy URL.

  • On Pinterest, Privacy controls are virtually non-existent:

You should be careful of what you pin. Just like Twitter, everything that you pin is public. Not just your followers, but everyone can see your profile and what you pin. Pinterest has no means of limiting the visibility of your pins or your comments like there are on other social media sites such as Facebook.

Once a pin or comment is uploaded, there is no taking it back. To this problem, there is no apparent solution, but to think twice before you share anything on Pinterest. 

  • Beware of collaborator hijacking:

A significant security risk from Pinterest is when a board, that you share or collaborate on starts to show pins that are undesirable to you. Such pins can be anything from adult content to whatever you find distasteful and that you don’t want on your board.

Such material appearing on boards linked with your profile can damage your reputation, so the best way to prevent this from happening is to online accept invites from people you know. If you find yourself in such a situation already, be quick to act, and simply uninvite yourself from that particular board. 

  • Fake accounts spread spam:

You should keep an eye out for fake accounts. Although you expect much less fake accounts on a website such as Pinterest, there is still a danger. When you receive an invite from an attractive looking name to collaborate, you might accept it, but that may be a fake account, and you would have compromised your profile and your private data.

Furthermore, Pinterest keeps no or minimal check on fake accounts, making it much easier for your data to be compromised. 

Pinterest

Pinterest monitors your activity:

In order to show relevant pins, Pinterest uses your search history, your location, your interests, your friends’ interests, and even your mobile’s microphone to gather information about your interests. This means Pinterest stores a lot of private data about you, and such data being stored online makes you vulnerable. 

After reading about all the risks of using Pinterest, one is easil[y scared away. Many people have already deleted their accounts on Pinterest because they didn’t want their data to be stored or used by social media sites. Deleting your account is one option. However, there are some steps you can take to lower privacy risk. 

  1. Use secret boards:

When you want to keep a pin but hide it from the public view, you can pin it to your secret board. But this secret board also comes with a bit of stiffness. Once a pin on your secret board is made public, you can not make it secret again. 

2. Remove your last name:

A Pinterest profile is always open and everybody can see your profile picture and name. This is a severe privacy issue; for greater privacy, remove your last name or add a fictional name your account, as well as use an anonymous profile picture. If you have linked your Pinterest with Facebook, a lot of stuff such as profile picture, name, and your about can come over onto Pinterest. Make sure to disconnect all of the above so no one can link your Pinterest account with your Facebook. 

3. Hide your profile from search engines:

The default Pinterest settings allow your profile to come up in search results when someone searches your name on a search engine. This can give access to your online activity to anyone just by knowing your name. Hide your profile by opening the settings> Account Basics > Switch the privacy toggle from ‘No’ to ‘Yes.’ 

4. Turn off the personalization option:

Personalization is when Pinterest uses the sites you visit and your interests to bring you relevant pins and ads. By turning the switches to ‘No,’ you disable Pinterest from monitoring your online activity.  

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