In September, Aya Kanai joined Pinterest as the platform’s head of content and creator partnerships. She has just been appointed Marie Claire’s editor-in-chief nine months prior, but the jump from fashion publishing to a social platform had become a pattern in the years prior. Eva Chen went from heading up Lucky magazine to Instagram to be director of fashion partnerships in 2015. Derek Blasberg, a longtime contributing editor to publications including Vanity Fair, joined YouTube as head of the fashion and beauty partnerships division in 2018.
“There was this opportunity to build a creator ecosystem that was founded on the principles of ensuring a positive and safe environment,” Kanai told Glossy. “These things are aspects that truly get discussed and brought in and invested in every single day [at Pinterest].”
A big step of that build debuted earlier this month, when Pinterest introduced its Creator Code content policy to press. Immediately following the announcement, Kanai detailed the aim to keep the platform as “the last positive corner of the internet,” including its policing of troll-like behavior, misinformation and the “compare-and-despair” talk that’s infiltrated fashion.
What goes into policing Pinterest content?
Now, when a creator goes to create content on Pinterest for the first time, they are required to sign the Creator Code. [In it] we’re sharing the key tenants of what it means to share in a constructive, creative and positive way. Being positive does not mean being saccharine. It does not mean avoiding hard conversations. It just means that you are taking a look at yourself when you’re posting your content and asking yourself: “What kind of person am I bringing to the table here, and who am I offering this content to?” There are so many channels that we all need to be on when we’re working in the digital content creation space, so we just want to make sure people understand that, when they’re on Pinterest, there is real clarity as to what we believe in. There’s also a human review [step for posts] — that is how seriously we take this.
Tell me about that human review process.
Pinterest has over 460 million monthly active users, so there are hundreds of billions of pins and billions of boards. We’re using human review to make sure that each piece of content fits our trust and safety guidelines. We want people to be as creative and imaginative as they can be on our platform. That said, platforms don’t stay positive and safe without a real agreement between the team and the leadership to build those tools into place. Some of the [reviewers] are in-house, some are out-of-house — there are a lot of people. But It’s an investment we believe is important and something that’s totally worth it.
Are comments being reviewed, too?
Naturally, comments are a really important creator engagement tool and how that conversation gets going. But creators — or the people who are initiating the content — are now able to opt out of them. Similar to what you see on other platforms, comments allow like pinners to keep track of ideas and save them onto other boards and, of course, give their own feedback if they’ve tried that recipe or if they tried that beauty trick. But we really want to make sure that we’re empowering the creator to regulate what kind of feedback they want.
Is there concern that this will impact engagement?
The audience size on Pinterest is very robust. We’re in a stage in our growth of ecosystem where building a place that is safe is the single most important thing. Maintaining Pinterest as the last positive corner of the internet really, truly matters, up to the highest echelons of our co-founders. And so, if the tools and the things that we’re building along that path have an impact, or if certain types of creators choose to not join our platform, that’s absolutely fine. We’re OK with that. Pinterest is a 10-year-old platform. We’re making sure that the content is really valuable and curated — and that anytime users open our app, they know that they’re going to have a positive and safe experience.
What’s the Pinterest definition of “triggering” content, which is blacklisted in the Creator Code?
Anything about bodies, weight loss. The triggers of any person are different. And so, [it’s about] understanding who’s going to see it, your audience. Body dysmorphia is the one that we talk about the most, because there’s a lot of content like that online, in terms of those old headlines that people used to do, like, “How to lose 10 pounds in two days,” and things like that which don’t make sense. Content like that is triggering. And then, of course, Pinterest is a visual search engine. So images that represent content like that can be triggering.
Is fashion more at-risk for negative banter on platforms than other categories?
For better or for worse, I think that triggering content can come into any category. But over 97% of the top searches on Pinterest are not branded. So what that means [for fashion] is that people using Pinterest are at that discovery phase of their search journey. They’re not coming on Pinterest to say, “best Louis Vuitton black boots.” They’re just saying, “best black boots.” “Show me what the cool black boots are.” They want to make a purchase, and they just want to get inspired by what is out there. Our fashion and beauty creators are sometimes talking about brands — like the brands they use in their own personal life — but they aren’t going down that compare-and-despair road of: “This is better than this.” It’s more like: “Here are the styling tips and the beauty tips that worked for me.”
Is being kid-friendly, to get young generations using the platform early, part of the strategy?
We have a lot of parents on Pinterest — we reach 80% of U.S. moms. But our two fastest-growing cohorts are Gen Z and men. Both of those [user] cohorts went up over 40% in 2020. Our user base is changing a lot, and it’s a wonderful thing to see it diversifying. I hope that those parents and caregivers of young people, Gen Z, feel that, when they look at Pinterest versus other platforms, they’d be happy for young people to use our tools for school projects and to find inspiration for their classwork. Pinterest is also a great tool for [pinpointing] what they like, as they’re developing their own tastes. And it doesn’t lead you down a lot of the negative places that we see elsewhere.