Despite restrictions imposed by Pinterest, hateful content can still be found easily on the platform, but not by direct search. A recent test searched for words related to anti-Semitism, such as the motto “6MWE” – an obscene term that alludes to the fact that the death of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust was not enough – and, promptly, a warning about the prohibition of the content appeared on the screen. However, when the search was done through the Google, dozens of pins have appeared with merchandise that incite violence against Jews, the kind of thing that Pinterest says limits.
A test search through Google found 64 pins that pointed to products with the motto “6mwe” – an abbreviation of “6 million was not enough” – in reference to the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust. Pins are tags that people use to save those posts they like the most on Pinterest. In addition to transgressing the law and morals, anti-Semitic markings violate the rules of the platform, more precisely the part that prevents the sharing of “conspiracy theories based on hatred and disinformation, such as Holocaust denial”.
According to The Next Web, this back door found by anti-Semitic groups to publicize their products and ideology raises questions about the effectiveness of the strategy. moderation of Pinterest, which consists of trying to restrict hateful content rather than focusing on removal. Critics argue that the site's current procedure doesn't actually prohibit violence, it just includes some obstacles. In this way, offensive content can still spread and persist “hidden” for a long time and do damage.
“The fact that this hateful and offensive content is easily accessible on Pinterest demonstrates how far tech companies have yet to go to deal with even the most obvious examples of hate,” lamented Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, an organization international Jewish non-governmental organization, headquartered in the United States.
Crystal Espinosa, a Pinterest spokesperson, reaffirms the company's policy that there is no place for hate speech on the platform. She does, however, recognize the need to improve her moderation systems. “When we identify or become aware of content that violates our policies, we review and act. However, due to the volume and complexity of the content, there is always more to be done”, he said.
The contradictory (and regrettable) episode involving anti-Semitic groups isn't much of a surprise to Pinterest users, as this isn't the first time the company has failed to moderate banned content. Last year, an investigation of the OneZero found that the platform did not remove posts that violated its own rules. At the time, the social network allowed sexualized images of girls, misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines and content related to QAnon – a far-right group that preaches white supremacy – to persist on the site. Access to these “hidden topics” was also made easier by Google search.
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Pinterest has recently reported that it has included improvements to its tracking system. To validate these efforts, a blog The platform's engineering team shares information about the latest content updates that violate their policies. Moderation, the blog says, uses machine learning and image recognition to look for new pins that are created on templates trained to identify policy violations.
It remains, then, to hope that these updates will finally consolidate Pinterest as the truly inspiring social network with positive content for which it was planned.