HOUSTON – Pinterest may ban sexually explicit material, but some parents say that pornographic content is still getting through to the website.
One mother of a 13-year-old said her son stumbled upon explicit images while using Pinterest to look up posts about video games.
Some of the “pins,” as they are known, including pornographic videos and links to adult websites.
“My son felt so bad, ashamed (and) guilty,” said the mother, who is being referred to as "Stephanie" for this story.
Stephanie said she forbids her kids from using social media and has installed website filters on their devices to block adult material.
But she initially had no concerns about downloading Pinterest, a site where people go for creative inspiration such as wedding ideas, recipes and fashion trends.
The company said that children under 13 are not allowed to use Pinterest, and based on that, Stephanie never expected her son to encounter pornography.
“It snuck into my house in spite all that I’ve done to try to keep it out,” she said.
According to the company’s website, some nudity is OK to be on the site, examples being paintings ore artistic photos.
But pictures of “nude people in sexually suggestive poses” are not allowed, according to Pinterest.
“What I saw would go way beyond sexually suggestive poses,” Stephanie said.
A Pinterest spokesperson said “We are committed to creating a positive environment and encourage any user who finds content that violates our policies to report it to our team.”
Stephanie said she has. “When I report one, it seems like there’s five to 12 to 100 new ones that pop up,” she said. “It gives them an unrealistic expectation about sexuality and relationships.”
Anne Rothenberg, a relationship counselor, said adolescents who stumble upon pornography on mainstream websites such as Pinterest may eventually seek more of it.
“You want that dopamine rush again, so you keep looking, and it becomes riskier and riskier,” Rothenberg said.
Pinterest relies on a combination of user reports and internal techniques to monitor and remove content that violates policies. The company said it can identify banned images and block them from being uploaded in the future.
Stephanie feels that Pinterest needs to change.
“It they’re going to claim that they’re safe for minors, they need to be safe for minors,” she said. “And if they won’t want to do that, if they don’t want to give up the porn, they need to raise the age to the adult age.”