It seems like new social media networks are being launched almost every day. Others were launched months or even years ago and are just now surfacing as major networks. Two networks that have shown up on our radar recently are Pinterest and Path.
I have been playing around with both networks recently so I’ll try to give you some background and thoughts on each. It really isn’t fair to give you a straight-up comparison between Pinterest and Path because they are very different networks. However, after using each for awhile, I’d like to explain why I decided to delete my Pinterest account and continue along my Path.
How the networks work
Pinterest: This photo-sharing social network allows users to pin images they have taken or found around the web to virtual pinboards. Default pinboard names such as “Art” and “Home Decor” are built in, but users can create their own boards as well. Users can repin or comment on other users’ pins if they are following them. The network encourages you to sign up through Facebook and/or Twitter. Pinterest allows you to have unlimited followers. Pins can be shared via both networks. Pinterest launched in March 2010 as a closed beta but by August 2011 it had been elevated to one of the top 10 social media networks according to Time Magazine.
Path: This one has also been around since late 2010, but since it relaunched with new features and a mobile interface overload, the network grew from 30,000 to 300,000 users in December 2011 alone. Path is touted as a “modern journal” and allows users to record moments of their life on the network. Users can post comments, photos and video as well as share music they are listening to and locations they visit. Unlike Pinterest, Path is more of a standalone network. While you can invite your friends to Path via email or Facebook, once you are on the network, you cannot share your moments to another one. Also, your network is limited to 150, which allows for more high-quality connections.
For business or pleasure?
There are plenty of businesses using Pinterest to promote their products. It’s even been noted that currently Pinterest is out-performing Facebook in driving traffic to business websites. In my experience, I have seen companies in the fashion and food industries use Pinterest to the highest advantage. However, businesses are just recently involved in the Pinterest push and there are arguably many more individual pins for pleasure being posted.
As for Path, I have seen no business connections whatsoever; nor can I currently imagine a scenario where a business could gain momentum from this network. Path is simply a different … path. But I like it that way.
Path ran into trouble last month when a developer realized that downloading the mobile app allowed a user’s entire address book to be sent to the network’s servers. Of course, this fueled a social media privacy debate. However, the company responded quickly with an apology from the CEO who said all address book information had been deleted. As far as I can tell from my research, this is now a non-issue.
What is extremely troubling is the ongoing debate with Pinterest on whether pinning images could land users into legal problems regarding copyright infringement.
Many images found on the web are copyright protected and, from my experiences as a journalist, the legal issues regarding copyright tend to lean toward the owners of the images. Individuals or businesses who pin or repin arbitrary images from the web should be very wary. Even if you are not pinning for monetary reasons, you could still be found liable if you post a strictly copyrighted image.
Adding more fuel to the fire, I read this poignant post from DDK Portraits, a photography company that was posting its own work on Pinterest and still found potential problems with copyright issues.
Delete Pinterest and share your Path
There was just no way around it. I deleted my Pinterest account. There are too many questions regarding copyright infringement with Pinterest. The value I was receiving from the network – almost nothing – is certainly not worth a legal battle. It’s a headache I don’t need. (If interested, deleting the account was very easy. I logged in via the desktop interface, went to “Settings” and deleted the account.)
If you’re pining after Pinterest because you deleted your account, I recommend giving Path a try. It’s a much more personal network than even Facebook and Twitter. Limiting the number of connections allows for higher-quality communication. Think of it as your online journal for sharing thoughts, photos and music without any business talk or – more importantly – potential legal issues.