Pinterest plays up status as a safe space

The social media company is looking to differentiate itself from Instagram and other networks.

Social media company Pinterest is stepping up its effort to differentiate itself from other platforms that have come under scrutiny over allegations that they have a toxic impact on users’ mental health. 

The San Francisco-based network this month launched a campaign, Pinterest Havens: Invest in Rest, which aims to “build community through recognition and representation,” the company said in a statement.

It will feature “inspiring content from a range of creators” and $60,000 donations to two Bay Area organizations: Chance the Rapper’s Social Works and Urban Juncture Foundation.

The campaign comes in the wake of a Wall Street Journal investigation of Facebook that revealed that the company’s own researchers have repeatedly found that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, increases anxiety and depression among young users, particularly teenage girls. 

Frances Haugen, a whistleblower from Facebook, testified before a Senate committee that Facebook has consistently tried to maximize profits rather than introduce safeguards. That approach has resulted in “more division, more harm, more lies, more threats and more combat. In some cases, this dangerous online talk has led to actual violence that harms and even kills people,” Haugen said.

The Pinterest campaign is the company’s latest public effort to break with the potentially toxic effects of social media. In July, the company became the first major platform to ban weight-loss ads. In 2019, Pinterest removed 4,600 terms and phrases related to self-harm in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, which occured this year on October 10.

The company’s “compassionate search” feature connects users seeking information on anxiety or other mental health issues with ideas to help them manage difficult emotions. 

“Regardless of the news cycle one week or the next, it is clear that people are looking for positivity on the internet,” said Elizabeth Luke, brand communications lead at Pinterest, via email. “Some days that is more relevant to cultural conversations than others, but Pinterest's mission has always been the same: to give people the inspiration to create a life they love. That’s been our North Star for over a decade, and as you know campaigns like these take months to bring to fruition.”

The company’s latest campaign includes a Havens board with “idea pins about rest from creators around the world, from gratitude journal prompts to bedtime affirmations, to tips for a mental reboot,” the company said in a statement.

“Those who use Pinterest know how calming and magical it can feel to plan or manifest your life through a board,” Luke said. “Pinterest Havens: Invest in Rest is meant to extend that feeling to the community, online and offline. No matter what’s happening in the world, you can control and create your own oasis.”

This story first appeared on PRWeek US.

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