Lauren Holdsworth

The social networking site Pinterest allows users to bookmark content they have found online in a highly visual manner. According to the web information company alexa.com, the site is most heavily frequented by women under the age of 35.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Recently, it seems some women have replaced the time they usually spend on Facebook stalking their friends and frenemies with stalking the virtual bulletin boards of social media site pinterest.com. From future wedding dresses to 100-calorie snack ideas, Pinterest works like a scrapbook, saving all of the things you know you’ll forget to remember.

Pinterest stands out among its social media competitors as simplistic and user-friendly with an image-heavy grid design. With the click of a button an image can be pinned and saved onto a board that denotes a category, such as “DIY & Crafts” or “Hair & Beauty.” Each image becomes a “pin” and you can add a caption to label it.

Lots of Pinterest users create a board to remember things they think will come in handy, like 10 ways to use a mason jar and how to sew your own reusable grocery bags.

Pinterest is as much a resource as the people using it make of it. Users, or “pinners,” not only save pins that they want to remember but also discover new things that other pinners have to share. By following your friends on Pinterest — a system similar to Facebook — you can see what your friends are pinning, and when your profile is public, others can see your pins.

Launched in March 2010 by a company called Cold Brew Labs, Pinterest is most popular with women under the age of 35 according to web information company alexa.com, which also reports that Pinterest’s traffic ranks 24th in the United States. Despite still being an invite-only platform, Pinterest drew in over 7 million unique visitors this past December.

Data from Google Ad Planner suggests that about 80 percent of Pinterest users are female. With virtual pins of craft ideas for old palette boards and homemade beauty recipes, women aren’t just using Pinterest, they’re claiming to be “obsessed” and “addicted.”

Senior journalism lecturer Robert Quigley, who teaches multimedia and social media, finds it interesting that Pinterest is the first major social network that appears to cater to a specific gender.

“Recently, I asked my multimedia journalism students to raise their hands if they were active on Google+, which boasts more than 90 million registered users. No one raised a hand,” Quigley said. “When I asked how many were active on Pinterest, about two-thirds of the students said they were.”

Fashion and beauty bloggers appear to be a driving force behind Pinterest. If they aren’t citing pins as inspiration for blog posts, it’s their content that’s going viral as it’s “repinned” by other users.

Austin style blogger Lauren Holdsworth of cactuscollective.wordpress.com sees Pinterest as a communal, creative space that is an excellent source of inspiration for her blog posts on fashion and home decor. She also uses the site to promote her blog’s content. When she pins an image, readers of her blog who follow her on Pinterest might get a hint of what’ll be on one of her future blog posts.

“Pinning gift guides, outfits or various other collages I’ve created on Pinterest gets my content out in a different way [than] the blog does,” Holdsworth said.

Living in an age of rampant Internet sharing means that often, the source listed on a pin on Pinterest isn’t the true original source. Pins from Pinterest, like photos from other websites, can be saved to a computer and be uploaded on other platforms, while the original source gets lost along the way.

In the Pinterest terms of use, the company states that they are not responsible for any infringement its users engage in. Oren Bracha, intellectual property law professor at UT, said that as long as Pinterest falls in line with the many conditions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, it is immune from consequences of copyright infringement.

“There are many things involved in this act, but simply put, to comply with this act, Pinterest needs to remain a passive host who doesn’t filter, edit, upload or control the user content,” Bracha said. “And if they should become aware of very specific infringement issues, then they are obligated under the act to act expeditiously.”

Bloggers who feel that their copyrighted works have been infringed upon are urged to report any specific potential violations to an email address listed on Pinterest’s site.

Craft blogger Amy Anderson of crafterminds.com acknowledges that Pinterest can be frustrating for bloggers who aim to control their original content, but sees it as a generally good resource.

“I think it’s naïve to think that everyone on the Internet is going to care about sourcing as much as bloggers do. The whole premise of Pinterest is that it’s a quick way to bookmark something visually,” Anderson said. “Most pinners aren’t bloggers, nor do they own a website so they aren’t doing it out of maliciousness.”

Anderson feels that with Pinterest, she takes the good with the bad. “Pinterest uses images to represent bookmarks, which makes the visual organization of ideas so easy and so quick. I think people are using it for the means that it was intended, which is to remember cool stuff they saw,” Anderson said.

Quigley said now is a good time to be a content creator with Pinterest. “They get more use out of sharing than they see negative consequences,” Quigley, who currently has two pins to his name, said of Pinterest users.

“If bloggers, or anyone else, fear social media for that reason, they’ll miss out on all the potential benefits of building an online community around you and your content.”