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Pinterest algorithm serves up a paedophile's buffet

by on13 March 2023

Apparently no one noticed (again)

Pinterest's algorithm has been serving up images of young girls to men in an all you can eat buffet for kiddie fiddlers. 

NBC News found that hundreds of girls’ Pinterest accounts were being followed by older men. The review showed that the site’s recommendation engine serves up photos and videos of visibly underage girls, including toddlers, in large quantities to a user seeking out this type of imagery. The children are typically seen bending over, doing the splits, sticking their tongues out and dancing in their bedrooms while dressed in outfits like pajama shorts, bathing suits and leotards.

Stephen Sauer of the nonprofit Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which works to stop child exploitation said that “the material that is innocently posted and is now being used to drive sexual interest in children.

Sauer conducted an independent review of the site at the request of NBC News, using a similar methodology. Upon doing an initial search for images of kids, he said, his homepage “almost immediately” filled with images of children often dressed in similarly revealing attire, several of which had received sexually suggestive comments.

Spokesperson Crystal Espinosa said in a statement that Pinterest has “a strict zero-tolerance policy for any content that may exploit or endanger minors,” and noted that when sexually suggestive boards containing “otherwise innocuous or non-sexual images” are detected, the company immediately takes them down and bans the creators.

Pinterest removed pages whose links NBC News shared as part of its requests for comment from the company, but there was no mention of it changing its coding to make sure that this does not happen in the future.

Pinterest was planning to roll out a new feature next week enabling users to report boards, which is not currently possible, but nothing about removing the terms.

The company said it is also adding more options for flagging individual profiles, which can at present only be reported for “Spam” and “Inappropriate cover image”; the new options will include the ability “to specifically call-out when content may involve a minor.” Pinterest said it will introduce new age-verification measures at a later date.

NBC News found one 45-year-old Texas guy pinned a video of a young girl doing a headstand in a board called “Young girl fashion.” He joined Pinterest last year after he was released on parole from prison, where he served 27 years for attempted murder, criminal records show. Shortly after NBC News contacted him via direct message, all three of his boards containing underage girls vanished from his profile.

Pinterest recommended images of little girls to an NBC News reporter, including a partly clothed child in a bathtub and another in bed.


Last modified on 14 March 2023
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