Pinterest didn’t just arrive. It exploded as a purely visual tour de force in what was a mostly text-centric social media landscape. Every pin by every user was capable of becoming a viral sensation. And much of that growth was realized because everything pinned was public, and unlike image-sharing rival Tumblr, relatively self-contained. And whereas Facebook was like a suburban neighborhood where you could stop lurkers at your front door, and Path was like an invite-only club, Pinterest was millions of gorilla-suited people holding signs on the side of the road, catching every eye possible.
But in a major update, Pinterest is offering the option to make any new board a “secret board.” Any new collection can be for your eyes only, or it can be shared with a few close people. As the company describes in their release:
We hope that secret boards will make Pinterest even more useful. You can use secret boards to keep track of holiday gifts, plan a special event, or work on a project you aren’t yet ready to share with the rest of the world. You can keep your secret boards to yourself or invite family and friends to pin with you.
In terms of sheer usability, it’s a great idea. With the flip of a single option, Pinterest can go from a “look at my awesome taste!” billboard to a private scrapbook for ideating a new user interface or figuring out what your siblings should buy your parents for Christmas. It essentially doubles Pinterest’s usefulness–giving it a purpose in our public and private lives.
Pinterest’s renewed privacy strategy is interesting. Whereas Instagram just announced that your identity was, whether you like it or not, becoming much more public, Pinterest is flipping the opposite direction, promising that your tastes can be more private. Examining the direction of all these giants, you can’t spot one standard driving the overall social engineering of online networks. So whether our status updates, tweets, and pins ultimately evolve into shouts to the world or whispers to friends is entirely unclear. For now, companies seems to be keeping their options open (which is, possibly, the real, inevitable future we’re heading toward).
[Hat tip: VentureBeat]
[Image: Cork Board via Shutterstock]