Earlier we wrote about the “brilliant sign-up process of Pinterest.”But the “brilliant” sign-up process is kind of sketchy.
If you’ve joined the social photo sharing site, then you’ve started to receive tons of daily emails saying new people are following you on it.
The problem is, most of those people never intended to follow you in the first place. They probably have no idea you received an email with their name in it. They didn’t choose to follow you, Pinterest chose for them.
What’s more, hundreds of similar emails were probably sent out to acquaintances with your name on it.
For example, I logged onto my Pinterest page yesterday after signing up one month ago. Somehow, I’m following 155 people. That was news to me — I never opted to follow any of them.
Here’s how Pinterest gets you.
When you sign up for the service, you’re pushed to do it through Facebook or Twitter. You’re then asked to choose categories you enjoy, such as animals or photography. Pinterest tells you it will suggest people to follow, which is fair.
The next page says, “You’re now following some people we think you’ll like.” Still fair.
But wait — if you scroll down below the fold, it shows personal contacts you’re also following. So Pinterest doesn’t just “suggest” you follow people, it defaults to following them without asking you first. As more of your social contacts join the site, you’re automatically set to follow them too — again without ever being asked.
Unbeknownst to you, all of those people you never intended to follow also get an email saying “Alyson Shontell is now following you on Pinterest.”
Now most people have Facebook or Twitter friends they don’t necessarily want to follow. Maybe it’s an ex or a boss — either way, it is embarrassing to let certain people know you’re following them, and it’s worse when you don’t even want to follow them.
Most other sites with Facebook or Twitter integration let you select who to connect with. Pinterest does not — it’s an opt out rather than opt in process.
But to make you follow a bunch of people by default without telling you you’re following them outright seems deceptive. And it’s clearly in the company’s best interest, not the user’s.