Days after an NBC News investigation revealed how older men on Pinterest create sex-themed image boards filled with photos of little girls, the company says it “dramatically” increased the number of human content moderators Is. It also unveiled two new features that enable users to report content and accounts for a range of violations.
Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent the company a letter Tuesday morning demanding to know why the new equipment wasn’t already available, among other questions.
“National media coverage of this type of graphic abuse should not have targeted young children for prompt action,” wrote the senators, co-sponsors of the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act. “This report is especially disappointing because Pinterest bills itself as ‘the last positive corner of the internet.'”
Pinterest’s new safety features enable users to report boards and accounts for “nudity, pornography or sexual content,” which the site defines as “intentional abuse involving minors.” Previously, boards could not be flagged at all; Individual accounts can only be reported for “spam” and “inappropriate cover image”.
As NBC News revealed, innocuous photos and videos of little girls are being individually tagged “sexy little girls,” “delicious,” “hot” and “young girls” by dozens, hundreds and even thousands of people on Pinterest. Compiled in public boards with titles such as. , These images, which often show children in bathing suits, leotards and other light clothing, are in many cases uploaded to the platform by the children themselves or by their family members, who have no idea how they are being used. .
One woman, whose 9-year-old daughter’s gymnastics videos were saved on more than 50 boards of that nature, told NBC News she was “shocked and dismayed” by the discovery.
“I thought Pinterest was the place to be creative and inspired,” she said.
His daughter’s profile was also flooded with direct messages, including “cute ass” and “mmmmm”. The senders appear to be adults based on their username and profile photo.
Pinterest spokeswoman Crystal Espinosa said the platform has implemented sweeping changes over the past few days, including bringing in thousands of human reviewers.
“The company has taken immediate, comprehensive and aggressive action to deactivate thousands of bad actors and anyone who may have inappropriately engaged with the content,” the company said in a statement.
Espinosa declined to provide more details, saying the company does not disclose details about its trust and security systems in order to prevent individuals from bypassing those systems.
Espinosa previously told NBC News that the company will also introduce new age-verification measures at a later date. Pinterest requires users to be at least 13 years old; However, as with other social media sites, many young children appear on the 450 million-user platform.
An NBC News investigation additionally found that Pinterest’s recommendation engine was unknowingly serving up photos and videos of young girls in skimpy dresses for adults looking for such content. Until Monday, it appeared that something was happening Search terms including “young girls” were recently banned.
The Pinterest account used for NBC News’ initial review — which involved looking at hundreds of accounts belonging to children and men who followed them over a one-month period — sifted through algorithmic recommendations for a large amount of images of little girls continued to appear. homepage, its TikTok-style “Watch” tab, and through the platform’s suggested content notifications.
On Monday, within minutes of creating another Pinterest account and interacting with photos and videos of underage girls, the platform curated more of the same on the homepage and in the “Watch” tab.
Espinosa said that Pinterest has Updated its machine learning model to “better understand and differentiate between legitimate uses and inappropriate engagement with content” on the platform. These tools will get stronger with time, he said.
In his letter to Pinterest, the senator was particularly interested in how the company handles the potential for interaction between minors and adults, asking to what extent it allows adults to message or follow children. restricts the ability of
Sierra Adair, a mom and influencer who has spent years independently studying Pinterest, believes she caught a stalker as a teen in an effort to prepare her 12-year-old daughter for the platform in January. presented.
While Adair wishes the new security features had been introduced “long ago”, he described them as a huge step in the right direction.
“Hunters are always changing their methods of exploitation [social media websites],” she added, “so I hope Pinterest continues to adapt to the security requirements of their platform.”