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Pinterest will offer users the chance to riff on Jennifer Lopez’s Halloween costume as it launches new products to emphasise its appeal to “emotional wellbeing” amid a storm of negative publicity surrounding social media firms.
The digital pinboard business is introducing a “Takes” product that allows users to respond to someone else’s ideas pin – or video post – with their own version, whether it is trying out a fellow user’s food recipe or replicating an artist’s sketch. The US company is launching the service with a Lopez idea pin, where the music star invites people to post their “killer Halloween costume”.
Pinterest, which has more than 400 million users, hopes the new features will boost growth and head off competition from services such as TikTok. From Wednesday it is also launching a “watch” tab to let users scroll through a tailored series of videos or photos using their full screen, instead of the traditional browse tab.
Pinterest’s senior vice-president of products, Naveen Gavini, said video was a superior medium for users wanting to learn how to create or carry out a task. “Video is a richer platform. If you want to learn how to do something it is much easier to watch a 10-minute video on how to do it.”
The platform is launching the new products against a backdrop of political pressure and public outcry against social media, including the revelations of the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, racist abuse of England footballers on Twitter and anti-vaccine videos being widely shared on TikTok. Because of Pinterest’s emphasis on creating and sharing virtual pinboards, the company is often viewed as the “not-Facebook” of social media.
Gavini said Pinterest was “fundamentally different” from Facebook and was not about checking up on friends or catching up with news. “We are fundamentally focused on different things,” he said. “Different networks have different challenges but we are focused on inspiration and how to protect that.”
I shouldn’t have to share this story in the year of our Lord, 2020 - but here we are. I’m an alum of Yale, Google, FB, in the WaPo Tech 202 Network, etc…and recently decided to leave @Pinterest, which just declared ‘solidarity with BLM.’ What a joke. 🙃1/#BelieveBlackWomen
— Ifeoma Ozoma (@IfeomaOzoma) June 15, 2020
The platform is launching a $20m fund to help users, or “creators”, bring their projects to life.
In July Pinterest said it would ban all adverts with weight loss language and imagery, including ads that idealised or denigrated certain body types.
The business has faced controversy recently, however, when a former employee, Ifeoma Ozoma, broke her non-disclosure agreement to accuse it of “racism, gaslighting and disrespect”. Ozoma went public last year with a former colleague, Aerica Shimizu Banks, to claim they had to fight to be paid fairly and faced retaliation for advocating for change.
Pinterest said it wanted every employee to feel safe: “We’ve been doing the work to ensure our culture, policies and practices are aligned with our commitment to be a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace for all employees.”