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How Pinterest reminds us that the web is for adults

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Pinterest and porn

(AGBeat) – Recently, we reported that as Pinterest grows, the chance of young men discovering Pinterest grows as well, and with young men visually bookmarking their interests, the site will easily be populated by potentially offensive material.

Tech bloggers are tossing up polls about whether nudity in art or otherwise is offensive, and while Pinterest is like any other community with rules (namely that they “do not allow nudity or hateful content” on the site), they are being called to prepare themselves to censor unsavory content that violates their rules (although all pins are already subject to the site’s Terms of Service and when flagged, Pinterest staff manually reviews it and either removes or allows each instance). There is alarm and hints that the site should offer stronger censorship which is ironic given these are the same tech bloggers that write endlessly about SOPA and ACTA.

The internet is a strip club

Pinterest is currently populated by mostly creatives, many of whom are artists or art enthusiasts and the bottom line is that nudity is a part of art. Additionally, the site does not force anyone to follow or view any content that is obscene – people with sensitivities should stick to viewing pins from people they know/trust/follow while avoiding a potentially offensive space, just as people with sensitivities should stick to not walking into a strip club and acting upset that nudity exists.

In this scenario, however, the strip club is not Pinterest, it is the entire web, which simply serves as a reminder that the web truly is for adults. Sure, anyone over the age of 13 can use Pinterest, and any toddler using mommy’s iPad can use the web, but it is wasted effort to run a poll about whether nudity has been witnessed on Pinterest, or to write about nudity online.

There is no such thing as a “no children allowed” button for the web, but the upset surrounding nudity on Pinterest is silly and a waste of effort, just as getting upset that porn exists online or that someone cussed on Twitter is wasted effort. While Pinterest has their rules that they request users to live by and they enforce the no nudity rules, it is a community that is based on sharing visual bookmarks of whatever interests the user, so if sideboob interests the user and someone doesn’t like that, they should unfollow them and keep their eyes on pins from people they follow that they trust not to offend them… stay out of the “Everything” category of Pinterest, or stay out of the internet overall for that matter, and everyone will be okay.

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Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. David Pylyp

    February 20, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Do you think there is a board on Pinterest that could be used as a referral WHO is available in What City State Province Bio that I can quickly scan.

    Is it Scan or Scorn that will be received?
    Your judgement is required.

    David Pylyp
    Living in Toronto and waiting for you

  2. Tinu

    February 20, 2012 at 1:24 am

    There's for real a poll about whether art is obscene? Because it contains nudity? I may have to unsubscribe from the web for a while. I abhor pettiness. I'd move to France but I just love this freaking country so much.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

      Even if we lived in France, we'd still read American sites, we can't help it 🙂

  3. Allen Mireles

    February 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Lani, I celebrate your choice of topic here and your extension of the concern about nudity on Pinterest to the reality of the entire web and the reminder that the web is for adults. I'm glad you have chosen to remind readers that no one is forced to follow anyone on Pinterest (or on the web for that matter) and that there are easy ways to limit one's exposure to anything one considers offensive. Duh.

    Last week (was it only last week?) we got up in arms about a popular social media consultant who spammed Pinterest with a series of branded posters with inane quotes. While I saw the same thing others saw and was both amused and dismayed at the pinning of 24 posters that all looked the same and included quotes that seemed unimportant (and yes, I felt like it was spam) I simply unfollowed that person and several others and went to gazing longingly at beautiful interiors that in no way resemble my home's. Point being, there was an easy fix. I have no interest in being wooed by social media gurus while I am on Pinterest. I like to look at the images that resonate and I can create my ideal Pinterest experience fairly easily. I have other friends and colleagues on Pinterest who pin images of sideboobage or sexy young things in scant outfits and I blow right by those because they don't interest me. If it gets to a point of being offensive, I unfollow, so that I can focus on the images that make me salivate: beautiful, pristine interiors devoid of a single pet hair.

    For better or worse, the web and now Pinterest, are a reflection of our humanity. The good, the bad and the ugly. (And, those things differ depending on who you ask.) We must use our intelligence and our discernment when using these tools–as we do in other aspects of daily living in today's world.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Perfectly stated, Allen – "simple fix" is the concept I was addressing… not sure why this is overly complicated for some people.

  4. novalinnhe

    December 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Hmmm… I’m reading up a lot about this, because I’ve just seen a man’s board on Pinterest that completely freaked me out. I reported him instantly. I pre-empt a few rolling eyeballs at this point, but it IS within Pinterest’s Terms of Use – so although my opinion is going to be unpopular within the context of this article, I was definitely within my right to do so.
     
    However, I never really realised that there are a community of people out there who actually enjoy images like this… without being a raging pervert/paedophile. It’s been quite curious hearing other people’s opinions on it. I’ve been Googling for about an hour now, slowly forming my opinion, and quite enjoying how eloquent a lot of the people writing these articles are.
     
    Now that I’ve studied the subject a little more, I’ve decided I’m sort of “in the middle” on it (although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to change the fact that I am very squeamish around nudity). What I’ve concluded is that, however much it does offend people, the internet is a free platform and so people shouldn’t be restricted from posting images like this – even if it offends other parties.
     
    However, I do believe that on sites which are so “easily accessible”, or run on visual media, systems like DeviantArt’s NSFW screen should be employed. It’s perfect – just slap it over anything 12+, and not only does it help out all those worried parents/religious people/those who genuinely find genetalia disturbing, but it allows images like this to be shared more freely. And so both parties win, I think. 🙂
     
    I’m a little scared about the backlash I am going to receive from fans of this guy’s Pinterest board – particularly as a lot of them seem to be quite eloquent. However, now that I can approach the situation from a broader “stance” than the scared little girl who doesn’t want to see another naked person ever again, I hope I can deal with what is coming. The internet really isn’t a very nice place for sensitive folk!
     
    However, as I’ve been reading, I’ve been thinking outside the subject a little more. If one allows sexual images like this to be posted more openly and freely (as yes, free speech is important)… what about pro-racists? Where do they go? Do they get stopped, or simply get the NSFW filter as well? What about child pornography? There are cultures where girls become women from a much younger age, and even over here in the UK, women could get married from 12. In Japan, there is an entire culture centralised around pornography which involves animated children (i.e. under 12), that is culturally accepted. Simple NSFW or unacceptable online?
     
    Hmm… I think I’ll need to do a little more studying around this. One thing is for certain, though… free speech is a ruddy confusing little topic, aye!

  5. Pingback: Google reverses decision concerning adult blog content - AGBeat

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Social Media

Should social media continue to self-regulate, or should Uncle Sam step in?

(MEDIA) Should social media platforms be allowed to continue to regulate themselves or should governments continue to step in? Is it an urgency, or a slippery slope?

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Last week, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook suffered a massive outage around the world that lasted for most of the day. In typical Internet fashion, frustrated users took to Twitter to vent their feelings. A common thread throughout all of the dumpster fire gifs was the implication that these social media platforms were a necessary outlet for connecting people with information—as well as being an emotional outlet for whatever they felt like they needed to share.

It’s this dual nature of social media, both as a vessel for content that people consume, as well as a product that they share personal data with (for followers, but also knowing that the data is collected and analyzed by the companies) that confuses people as to what these things actually are. Is social media a form of innovative technology, or is it more about the content, is it media? Is it both?

Well, the answer depends on how you want to approach it.

Although users may say that content is what keeps them using the apps, the companies themselves purport that the apps are technology. We’ve discussed this distinction before, and how it means that the social media giants get to skirt around having more stringent regulation. 

But, as many point out, if the technology is dependent on content for its purpose (and the companies’ profit): where does the line between personal information and corporate data mining lie?

Should social media outlets known for their platform being used to perpetuate “fake news” and disinformation be held to higher standards in ensuring that the information they spread is accurate and non-threatening?

As it currently stands, social media companies don’t have any legislative oversight—they operate almost exclusively in a state of self-regulation.  This is because they are classified as technology companies rather than media outlets.

This past summer, Senator Mark Warner from Virginia suggested that social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, needed regulation in a widely circulated white paper. Highlighting the scandal by Cambridge Analytica which rocked the polls and has underscored the potential of social media to sway real-life policy by way of propaganda,

Warner suggested that lawmakers target three areas for regulation: fighting politically oriented misinformation, protecting user privacy, and promoting competition among Internet markets that will make long-term use of the data collected from users.

Warner isn’t the only person who thinks that social media’s current state of self-regulation unmoored existence is a bit of a problem, but the problem only comes from what would be considered a user-error: The people using social media have forgotten that they are the product, not the apps.

Technically, many users of social media have signed their privacy away by clicking “accept” on terms and conditions they haven’t fully read.* The issues of being able to determine whether or not a meme is Russian propaganda isn’t a glitch in code, it’s a way to exploit media illiteracy and confirmation bias.

So, how can you regulate human behavior? Is it on the tech companies to try and be better than the tendencies of the people who use them? Ideally they wouldn’t have to be told not to take advantage of people, but when people are willingly signing up to be taken advantage of, who do you target?

It’s a murky question, and it’s only going to get trickier to solve the more social media embeds itself into our culture.

*Yes, I’m on social media and I blindly clicked it too! He who is without sin, etc.

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Deepfakes can destroy any reputation, company, or country

(MEDIA) Deepfakes have been around for a few years now, but they’re being crafted for nefarious purposes beyond the original porn and humor uses.

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Deepfakes — a technology originally used by Reddit perverts who wanted to superimpose their favorite actresses’ faces onto the bodies of porn stars – have come a long way since the original Reddit group was banned.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create bogus videos by analyzing facial expressions to replace one person’s face and/or voice with another’s.

Using computer technology to synthesize videos isn’t exactly new.

Remember in Forrest Gump, how Tom Hanks kept popping up in the background of footage of important historical events, and got a laugh from President Kennedy? It wasn’t created using AI, but the end result is the same. In other cases, such technology has been used to complete a film when an actor dies during production.

The difference between these examples and that latest deepfake technology is a question of ease and access.

Historically, these altered videos have required a lot of money, patience, and skill. But as computer intelligence has advanced, so too has deepfake technology.

Now the computer does the work instead of the human, making it relatively fast and easy to create a deepfake video. In fact, Stanford created a technology using a standard PC and web cam, as I reported in 2016.

Nowadays, your average Joe can access open source deepfake apps for free. All you need is some images or video of your victim.

While the technology has mostly been used for fun – such as superimposing Nicolas Cage into classic films – deepfakes could and have been used for nefarious purposes.

There is growing concern that deepfakes could be used for political disruption, for example, to smear a politician’s reputation or influence elections.

Legislators in the House and Senate have requested that intelligence agencies report on the issue. The Department of Defense has already commissioned researchers to teach computers to detect deepfakes.

One promising technology developed at the University of Albany analyzes blinking to detect deep fakes, as subjects in the faked videos usually do not blink as often as real humans do. Ironically, in order to teach computers how to detect them, researchers must first create many deepfake videos. It seems that deepfake creators and detectors are locked in a sort of technological arms race.

The falsified videos have the potential to exacerbate the information wars, either by producing false videos, or by calling into question real ones. People are already all too eager to believe conspiracy theories and fake news as it is, and the insurgence of these faked videos could be created to back up these bogus theories.

Others worry that the existence of deepfake videos could cast doubt on actual, factual videos. Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University says that deepfakes could lead to “deep denials” – in other words, “the ability to dispute previously uncontested evidence.”

While there have not yet been any publicly documented cases of attempts to influence politics with deepfake videos, people have already been harmed by the faked videos.

Women have been specifically targeted. Celebrities and civilians alike have reported that their likeness has been used to create fake sex videos.

Deepfakes prove that just because you can achieve an impressive technological feat doesn’t always mean you should.

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Red flags to look for when hiring a social media pro

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social Media is a growing field with everyone and their moms trying to become social media managers. Here are a few experts’ tips on seeing and avoiding the red flags of social media professionals.

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If you’re thinking about hiring a social media professional – or are one yourself – take some tips from the experts.

We asked a number of entrepreneurs specializing in marketing and social media how they separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to social media managers, and they gave us some hints about how to spot whose social media game is all bark and no bite.

According to our experts, the first thing you should do if you’re hiring a social media professional is to check out their personal and/or professional social media pages.

Candidates with underwhelming, non-existent, out-of-date, or just plain bad social media pages should obviously get the chop.

“If they have no professional social presence themselves, that’s a big red flag,” says Chelle Honiker, CEO at Athenia Creative.

Another entrepreneur, Paul O’Brien of Media Tech Ventures, explains that “the only way to excel is to practice…. If you excel, why would you not be doing so on behalf of your personal brand?”

In other words, if someone can’t make their own social media appealing, how can they be expected to do so for a client?

These pros especially hated seeing outdated icons, infrequent posts, and automatic posts. Worse than outdated social media pages were bad social media pages. Marc Nathan of Miller Egan Molter & Nelson provided a laundry list of negative characteristics that he uses to rule out candidates, including “snarky,” “complaining, unprofessional” “too personal” “inauthentic,” and “argumentative.”

Besides eliminating candidates with poor social media presence, several of these pros also really hated gimmicky job titles such as “guru,” “whiz,” “ninja,” “superhero,” or “magician.”

They were especially turned off by candidates who called themselves “experts” without any proof of their success.

Jeff Fryer of ARM dislikes pros who call themselves experts because, he says “The top leaders in this field will be the first to tell you that they’re always learning– I know I am!” Steer clear of candidates who talk themselves up with ridiculous titles and who can’t provide solid evidence of their expertise.

According to our experts, some of them don’t even try. To candidates who say “’Social media can’t be measured,’” Fryer answer “yes it can[. L]earn how to be a marketer.”

Beth Carpenter, CEO of Violet Hour Social Marketing, complains that many candidates “Can’t talk about ROI (return on investment),” arguing that a good social media pro should be able to show “how social contributes to overall business success.” Good social media pros should show their value in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

While our experts wanted to see numerical evidence of social media success, they were also unimpressed with “vanity metrics” such as numbers of followers.

Many poo-pooed the use of followers alone as an indicator of success, with Tinu Abayomi-Paul of Leveraged Promotion joking that “a trained monkey or spambot” can gather 1,000 followers.

Claims of expertise or success should also be backed up by references and experience in relevant fields.

Several entrepreneurs said that they had come across social media managers without “any experience in critical fields: marketing, advertising, strategic planning and/or writing,” to quote Nancy Schirm of Austin Visuals. She explains that it’s not enough to know how to “handle the technology.” Real social media experts must cultivate “instinct borne from actual experience in persuasive communication.”

So, if you’re an aspiring social media manager, go clean up those pages, get some references, and figure out solid metrics for demonstrating your success.

And if you’re hiring a social media manager, watch out for these red flags to cull your candidate pool.

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