By Josh Davis
Breaking news that Pinterest is changing user submitted pins to make money. Are they now one of the biggest affiliates on the Internet?
If you post a pin to Pinterest, and it links to an ecommerce site that happens to have an affiliate program, Pinterest modifies the link to add their own affiliate tracking code.
If someone clicks through the picture from Pinterest and makes a purchase, Pinterest gets paid. They don’t have any disclosure of this link modification on their site, and so far, while it has been written about, no major news outlet has picked up on the practice or its implications.
Pinterest doing this is big news in my opinion for two reasons:
Pinterest is monetizing their site while in the early beta stage, which is almost unheard of for a newish social network.
Pinterest has taken this action in a quiet, non-disclosing way.
How long this has been going on isn’t clear, but it has been at least a month as Lindsey Mark wrote a blog post that mentioned it on January 5th. In my case, I saw a tweet from from fellow Lawrence social media user Debbi Johanning that linked to an article Why I Don’t Mind Pinterest Hijacking My Links.
That blog post was based on a post by Joel Garcia on an affiliate marketing blog which pointed out the practice, but also explained that if an affiliate link was in the original pin, Pinterest wouldn’t modify it.
How Pinterest modifies its users’ links: