Investigator’s Guide to Pinterest

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Investigator's Guide to Pinterest - Pinterest logo under magnifying glass.

The Investigator’s Guide to Social Media introduces popular social media platforms and how information shared on these platforms can benefit investigators. In this installment, we’ll be discussing why one should be investigating Pinterest.


What is Pinterest?

Founded in 2010, Pinterest allows users to upload, save, sort, and manage content from around the web. While Facebook and Twitter allow users to share what they’ve done or are currently doing, Pinterest encourages users to Pin content which they aspire to do in the future. As a result, Pinterest is a great way for investigators to build a personality profile on a subject.

How does Pinterest work?

Pinterest is popular with its core users because it allows them to capture ideas from all over the web on a single platform. With a few clicks, they can create collections of images which link back to their source – be that on the web or another Pinterest user’s account.

Pinterest Terminology

  • Boards – Boards are personal pages which allow users save and organize content. Users typically have multiple Boards which feature Pins about different topics.
  • Pins – Pins are visual bookmarks which allow users to collect content on their boards. Pins are hyperlinked to the website from which the content originated.
  • Rich Pins – Rich Pins provide more detail than standard Pins and are typically used by companies to promote a product on the platform. There are currently five types of Rich Pins: movie, recipe, article, product, and place.
  • Repins – Repins are similar to a “retweet” on Twitter. By repining, a user is able to share other user’s Pins on their Board. Credit is given to the user from which the Pin originated, so repining is a good way for users to connect with one another.
  • Likes – Likes on Pinterest are similar to those on other social media platforms. If a user likes another user’s Pin, they are able to find it later without publishing it to a Board.

Who uses Pinterest?

Pinterest has more than 150 million users. The platform is known for attracting a female-dominated user base and according to one recent study, 80% of Pinterest users are females.

Distribution of Pinterest User by Age

Investigator's Guide to Pinterest - Graph illustrating the distribution of Pinterest users by age.

Demographic information courtesy of Business Insider.

What information do users share on Pinterest?

Pinterest is ideal for identifying a subject’s interests or hobbies. For instance, an investigator may note that the subject is a runner if they have multiple boards dedicated to running. (Examples might be: tips for marathons, athletic clothing, or inspirational running quotes.) Furthermore, many of the Pins on these boards are likely to link to sites where our analysts can obtain further information.

Pinterest allows users to connect with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Gmail. Through these connected services, users are able to share Pins and search for contacts. (When connected with Facebook, the user will have a “Pinterest” section displayed in their “More” dropdown menu.)

How does one search Pinterest?

Pinterest allows users to choose whether or not they would like their profile to be indexed by search engines. A user’s Pinterest profile will appear in a search engine query if they’ve allowed it to be indexed. Investigators will have to search for the subject through Pinterest if the profile isn’t indexed. After identifying the profile, an investigator is able to see the user’s Boards, Pins, likes, followers, and other Pinterest users they are following.

Should you be investigating Pinterest?

Pinterest is a popular social media network which merits attention from investigators. While our analysts find that they rarely break a case with information found on Pinterest, the insight into the subject’s behavior is invaluable and can lead to more significant discoveries.

Let us know how Pinterest fits into your investigation process in the comments section below. Want more information about SMI’s social media investigation or preservation products? Please contact us or call (888) 299-9921 and one of our representatives will gladly assist you.