Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Pinterest Cuts Off Spammers (Hey Instagram, Hope You’re Next)

Pinterest today is undertaking a cleansing of spammy and fake accounts. It plans to delete them.

The site already has a spam reporting system for pins and comments. It tries to take care of bad behavior — like posting a picture of some cool product that redirects to a weight-loss site instead — on a rolling basis.

But it saved up a big batch of infringing accounts to wipe out in one fell swoop, in part because some users’ follower counts may drop significantly.

Pinterest engineering lead Jon Jenkins noted that larger follower drops will likely only happen to a small minority of accounts that are on popular user lists or have bought fake followers.

All Pinterest users “will have just as many valid followers as today, but they will just lose a bunch of cruft,” Jenkins said. More than 99 percent of accounts will lose fewer than 10 followers in the cleanse.

Jenkins said he didn’t think there was anything special about Pinterest spam, just that it was the nature of running a social service, and especially one “that hits the scale we’ve hit.” He said his team is now using machine learning to track spammer habits and wipe them out on an ongoing basis.

And it’s true; Pinterest is hardly the only service with a spam problem. Instagram spam comments have been particularly bad of late, especially for celebrity user accounts and hashtags. Let’s hope they can put a lid on that ASAP.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald