Security Social Media

3 Pinterest Security Issues, and What You Can Do About Them

Christian Cawley 28-07-2017

Pinterest may not be as big as Facebook or YouTube, but as social networks go, it has proved lucrative for scammers. Several security issues exist, and while things are better than they were — scammers at one point generated over $1,000 a day — Pinterest is far from perfect.


But because Pinterest doesn’t look or feel like a social network, scammers seem to be able to get away with more. It’s tougher to spot something suspicious. Even if you genuinely know how to use Pinterest, you can still be dragged into someone’s scam.

While Pinterest remains fun to use, the risks are there. Fortunately, we’re here to help you spot the scams, and make the most out of Pinterest’s privacy settings. That way, you should be able to keep using Pinterest without worrying… just as long as you remain vigilant.

1. If That Pin Seems too Good to Be True…

The latest weight loss diet is always popular, but does it genuinely have a place on Pinterest? And does anyone ever really get those free $100 gift cards?

Pinterest has long suffered from spam pins, with attractive images of a successful diet, or perhaps a wrinkle-free grandmother, popping up on many Pinterest boards. A single click and you’ll be diverted to a third party site. Here, you’ll be asked to repin the dodgy pin, fill in a survey “for your chance to win” or download some malware.

Or all of the above.


How did you come across the pin? Perhaps you were tagged in it. You can’t really do much about that. But you can be smart. Don’t click on anything without being certain about the destination. You can see where a link leads by checking the lower-left corner of your browser window. If a shortened URL is used The Advantages of Setting Up Your Own URL Shortener and How to Do It In a world of 140 characters, and short attention spans, you need to get as much text as possible in your Twitter status, if you are going to effectively get your message across. Read More then it’s a good idea to avoid it. You can also use a URL expander tool How to Peek at Shortened URLs Without Clicking on Them Shortened URLs are convenient for social media, but can be extremely risky because you can't see where they lead. Here are a few ways to peek without clicking! Read More to check the destination.

3 Pinterest Security Issues, and What You Can Do About Them muo security pinterest privacy scams 632x500

Given how easy it is for scammers to hook you in, it’s a good idea to avoid pinning any personal information, such as your address, full name, date of birth, or even an accidental image of your credit card.

2. Avoid Collaborator Hijacking

A long-standing threat on Pinterest comes from “collaborator hijacking” in which a board you collaborate on — that is, pinning on — starts displaying undesirable content. This may be an attempt to display unsuitable material for minors, for instance, or something else that you (or others) find distasteful. Basically, content in breach of Pinterest’s content guidelines.


Because you’ve previously agreed to contribute to the board, it is linked to your account. All of a sudden, those cupcakes you’ve been sharing with other mums seem a lot less wholesome, right? Your reputation takes a hit right there.

The best way to avoid this from happening is to only accept invites from people you know personally, or at least trust. If you find yourself caught this way, simply uninvite yourself from the board in question. The quicker you act, the better. Keeping a tab on all of your boards, and ensuring they’re organized Don't Be Messy: Keep Your Pinterest Boards Organized With These Tips It only takes a bit of effort to organize your pins, and the results are worth it. Read More should help.

Although this sort of thing usually only happens to Pinterest accounts dedicated (or controlled by) celebrities or big brand names, it has happened plenty of times to Joe Public. Make sure it doesn’t affect you!

3. Learn to Spot Fake Accounts

Fakers are a problem online: fact. Another fact is that Pinterest doesn’t have any verification system in place. This is not the case with other social networks; Twitter has its own (controversial) verification system How to Get a Verified Account on Twitter (And Is It Worth It?) There are many Twitter users with blue tick marks next to their name. The blue tick denotes a verified account, meaning this is a real person and is whoever their description says it is. Read More , while Facebook actively teams up with celebrities.


Particularly celebrities.

3 Pinterest Security Issues, and What You Can Do About Them pinterest threat

In fact, it doesn’t even need to be a celebrity that the scammers pose as. They could pose as your contacts, “using a new account”, and using it to scam you with invites and fake pins, as shown above.

So, how can you tell?


Well, first of all: celebrities are unlikely to invite you to collaborate on Pinterest. So ignore any invites you receive from Beyoncé, Russell Crowe, or David Beckham.

Also, check their boards out. If they look relatively new, back away. If the pins seem inappropriate for the person who supposedly inviting you to collaborate, again, back off. The bigger distance you keep between yourself and scam accounts, the better.

That’s three ways in which Pinterest poses a privacy issue. What can you do about them?

Make the Most of Secret Boards

Pinterest’s focus has always been on sharing. For a long time, there was no was no difference in what you shared: everyone saw it, or you simply didn’t bother pinning. These days, there is the option of setting up a secret board.

3 Pinterest Security Issues, and What You Can Do About Them muo security pinterest privacy settings

But this comes with some caveats to consider. While everything on a secret board is for your eyes only, this may not be ideal. Secret board settings are somewhat inflexible:

  • A secret board can be made public, but not reverted to secret.
  • A secret board pin can be made public, but again cannot be made secret again.

The solution to this is to make sure that when you reveal a secret board, the content you have pinned to it is material you’d be happy for others to see. If not, delete the pins. It might be an idea to create another secret board, just for those pins.

Understand Your Pinterest Privacy Settings

Concerns about Pinterest’s privacy issues over recent years have led to a number of privacy settings being introduced and/or revised. So if you would rather your Pinterest board remained beyond the interest of scammers, try opening the Account basics screen (found as a cog icon when you view your profile page). From here:

  • Ensure the Search privacy option is set to On
  • Change these Personalisation options to Off:
    • Use sites you visit to improve which recommendations
    • Use information from our partners to improve which recommendations and ads you see
  • It’s worth clearing your search history too, with Clear Search History.

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  • Under Notifications, you can reduce the amount of notification spam you get by receiving updates from Only people you follow.
  • You can limit interaction from spammers by disassociating your social networks. This is a good way to avoid their attention.
  • Use the Security options to check that you’re the only person logged into your account. This will list any recent or active sessions accessing your account. If you see something concerning, use the End activity
  • Under Apps, any mobile apps you have used for Pinterest will be listed. On Android, several apps can log in to Pinterest, but you should only use the official app. If there is an app you don’t recognize listed here, disassociate it from your account.

Note that you can also Change your password, and Deactivate account if things are getting out of hand.

Don’t Let Your Pins Turn Bad

Pinterest is great, but these privacy issues can make a pleasant experience turn bad, very quickly. But the same can be said about Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat… even YouTube. Remember, Pinterest can be fun, but you should be on the lookout for:

  • Scam, spammy pins
  • Collaborator hijacking
  • Fake accounts

Being aware of these problems will help you to keep your Pinterest account private. Further secure it by using secret boards, and using the Pinterest settings to enhance your privacy. Then, find ways to use Pinterest more effectively How to Use Pinterest Effectively (And Avoid the Ridiculous Nail Art) It is actually possible to use Pinterest for useful tasks, though it may not seem so at first glance. Here's how. Read More !

Social networks are not everything. Treat them with restraint, don’t overshare, and you should be fine. Keep your real world life and your Pinterest life as separate as possible, and enjoy what’s out there.

Have you been scammed on Pinterest? Has your account been associated with something unpleasant? How did this affect you? Tell us in the comments.

Image Credit: Ink Drop via

Related topics: Photo Sharing, Pinterest.

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  1. MudkipLover2005
    August 21, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    I get and I mean I get, followed by people who have inappropriate content. I blocked nearly everyone and kept my boards secret.

  2. Karen Kalteissen
    December 24, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Pinterest suspended mya countwith no explanation other than I violated their spamming policy. 5 times I write to explain that I’ve read and reread their policy, I know I haven’t violated it, and since I am a 71 year old retired teacher living in a nursing home, I need my boards to pass long, lonely boring answers. All I get is a form letter with another link to the same policy. Everywhere I try to go to appeal, they say that’s not the right way and copy the link to the policy. Is there anywhere I can talk to a real human?

    • Niels
      April 24, 2019 at 7:48 pm

      Pinterest main purpose is to destroy all the work of good people. They suspend accounts whenever they want and you always get the same reply. How are people who work there able to live with themselves? The answer is really simple...they have no soul

  3. dave
    October 14, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    I recently had a virus, My IT person found that it came from the Interest Extension....He explained how scammers use extensions to plant viruses etc....So I'm not using the extension anymore....Any others with this issue ?

  4. Tim Criss
    February 3, 2018 at 8:08 am

    I tried many times to fugure out how to contact pinterest, but they make it impossible. So maybe I should vent on Facebook. They should love that. I've enjoyed the site for quite some time until now. Now they are letting animal activist to add pictures of dead animals and such. Dozens of them. Why not include decapitated bodies, or how about drug overdose bodies. Maybe abused children? aborted babies? I didn't abuse those animals so if you find one, prosecute those responsible, but get it out of my face Ruined a good site. Don't make it political or push your views. Won't be coming back anytime soon Tim

    • Karen Kalteissen
      December 24, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      If you find out how to get through to a real human, please share your secret. Good luck.

  5. Larraine Lamb
    January 23, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    I just opened a pin sent to me by Pinterest ( along with several others as usual) It was an image of a yellow building with 3 rows of windows, the caption said "Whoa" I got a full page VIRUS warning with a loud male voice announcing it! Do not open that image!!!!

  6. Donna Lownds
    December 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    I have been trying to block several witch and wicken Pinners from my feed and have had a minimal result in my favor. Some I have blocked several times but still seem to be coming up. So I go to block again and find I have already blocked them. Please help me eliminate these posted from my feed.

  7. Jude Anderson
    November 5, 2017 at 8:19 am

    I was recently using the app on Pinterest and have a few Pins happening for different products I’m interested in.
    I’m looking through my pins and suddenly a message comes up with You’ve been selected to Win an iPhone. There was no way of getting out of it except by turning off your phone. Then turned my phone back on and I saw in my browsing history websites I was not familiar with. Could not delete them permanently so I need up deleting my google app and all its contents.
    It also affected my PC when using Pinterest.