Author: Mary Ambrose, CPA/MBA
Pinterest is one of the top social media platforms to drive free traffic to your blog. However, Pinterest suspension is a real problem that could cause you to have temporary or permanent account closure.
Your first burning question might be: Could Pinterest suspension be permanent?
The answer is Yes, if you give up fighting. But you should be able to get it back quickly if you follow the right paths outlined below.
This 2019 case study of my personal experiences with Pinterest suspension will help you to prevent that unfortunate event from happening in the first place, and will definitely get your account reactivated in shortest time possible.
Click on the image below to Pin to Pinterest for later!
If you have a Pinterest account, chances are you’ve heard about “Pinterest suspension” or “Pinterest jail”.
I was definitely aware of this much-dreaded situation among social media marketers and bloggers before I even opened my Pinterest business account for my blog.
Because I always try my best to abide by the rules and don’t do anything unethical, I never expected my account would be suspended by Pinterest one day.
But that’s exactly what happened to me on Jan. 15, 2019. At that time, my Pinterest business account was only about three months old.
I remember exactly what I was doing the second it happened. I was typing a message in a social media account engagement thread in one of the Facebook groups that I participate in.
And this is exactly what I typed:
“I’d love more Pinterest followers. If our boards are good match, I will follow back.”
Then I was logged out of my Pinterest account immediately and a system generated email from Pinterest popped up in my inbox at exactly 11:49AM PST:
Of course, they addressed me with my Pinterest username because this email was automatically generated by their “spam” filter based on their definition of triggers that are considered “spams”.
My first gut feeling was that the phrase “follow back” in my message in that Facebook group board triggered Pinterest automatic suspension because they think they’re smart enough to identify “spammers” by flagging any account owner that typed the phrase “follow back”.
However, they’re not smart enough to differentiate between the pure “follow-back” exchanges that are against Pinterest policies and the genuine Pinterest follow-backs that should be allowed.
My condition of “follow-back” in my message was “if our boards are good match”. That means, I’ll only follow back if I think we’re in a similar niche.
And that’s what I’ve always been doing. I don’t just blindly follow back any new followers. I check their profile and boards first before deciding the next steps.
One other possibility of what caused the suspension is someone in that Facebook group saw what I typed and reported my account.
But given the fact that the suspension happened the second after I typed the message, I don’t believe that’s because of any third party’s report.
As far as I know, social media companies do take other users’ reports and flags seriously and they investigate into the flagged account before making final decisions. But I don’t believe they would instantly suspend the account just because someone reported it.
Think about it, there could be multiple reasons why people report your account:
- Evidence of real wrong-doings
- They simply don’t like you
- They’re jealous of your good work
- They flagged you by accident
In my case, number one, as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really do anything wrong.
My philosophy in life is simply this: First of all, do the right things. And if something unfair happens even when I’m not in the wrong, I’m determined and will do whatever is appropriate and whatever is in my power to make things right again.
Because of my history of successfully resolving issues against all odds in the past, I actually didn’t worry too much about it when the suspension happened because I know I’ll get it back.
Besides, I was working from home that day and had to jump on a conference call in 10 minutes when the suspension happened.
So, my first reaction upon receiving that suspension notification email was to click on that second link in the screenshot earlier to appeal the case.
There was no automatic email message after clicking that link.
Because I am not a spammer and naturally optimistic, I genuinely expected a real person from Pinterest would take a look at my account and reactivate it within a day or two.
You may not be surprised to hear that, no, I did NOT get my account back that smoothly simply because I clicked the appeal link in that system generated email.
Instead, after some drastic measures, it took me 67 hours from the moment of suspension to reactivate my account.
Read more for exactly what I did and what occurred during that 67-hour ordeal:
WHAT I DID TO REACTIVATE MY SUSPENDED PINTEREST ACCOUNT
Step 1: I found the “Get more help” form on Pinterest to appeal suspension
Here’s the screenshot of what that contact page looks like when you click on the “Appeals” button after you first open the page.
Step 2: I selected the “Appeal account suspension” option and followed the on-screen directions and filled out my Pinterest account as well as personal contact information in the appeal form.
One important step in filling out this form is to describe when and how the suspension happened and explain why you think your account should be reactivated.
After submitting this online appeal form, I received the following system generated email from Zendesk (Pinterest Support):
Because this Zendesk message looks so promising, I practically just waited in the following two days expecting to hear back from Pinterest with apologies from them and telling me my account is back online.
However, life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect it to.
On Jan. 17, I received the following message from Pinterest:
As you can see, the sender email address is email@example.com
That basically means this is, again, a system generated email.
I was a bit disappointed and angered, to say the least.
First of all, I do not have one pin that violated Pinterest spam policy.
Furthermore, most of my 1,000+ pins actually belong to others. I merely repined them from Pinterest daily feeds or other members within Facebook groups.
For Pinterest to say “most of my pins go against” their spam policy is not only absurd, it’s irresponsible.
If they want to suspend my account and permanently ban me from signing up for a new account, then they should do that to most other Pinterest users because most of my pins do not belong to me.
I never received any notification or alert from Pinterest prior to suspension that I violated anything.
It’s a total shock for Pinterest to tell me now that “most of my pins” are spams and I cannot even open a new account.
As I eluded to earlier, I’m not the kind who just give up and cry. Oh no, just the opposite.
Step 3: I filed an official Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaint against Pinterest on the same day
For those of you who don’t know what BBB is, it is a non-profit organization that coordinates consumer and business complaints against other business entities and help to resolve disputes.
An amazing feature on BBB is the public display of historical and recent consumer complaints and responses back from the business that the complaints are targeted against.
It is in the company’s best interest to resolve these consumer issues timely, otherwise unresolved and open cases can all be seen by the public and reflects poorly on a company’s resolve to provide the best customer experience and services.
All I had to do when I filed the official complaint against Pinterest was typing up exactly what happened after determining that my case qualifies for using BBB as the avenue based on the quick questionnaire provided by BBB.
The very next day, I received a confirmation email from BBB that my complaint was forwarded to Pinterest.
Within hours, I received the following email from a real person at Pinterest:
This email was in response to my suspension appeal form submission in Step 1.
Well, I don’t believe Billy is a real name in this case, it might just be a “handle” of a Pinterest support staff.
I was able to follow that reactivation link, log in, and discovered that everything in my account stayed intact. Even the monthly viewers count didn’t change much because I was only gone for 67 hours.
HOW TO AVOID “PINTEREST JAIL”
Now that we know it’s so easy to get thrown into the notorious “Pinterest jail”, let’s get practical and get educated on the causes in Pinterest’s eyes for a suspension.
There are two main categories of policy violations that will lead to Pinterest suspension. Go through the list below thoroughly and keep these requirements at the back of your mind when you use Pinterest.
As you may remember, that’s the Policy that Pinterest automatic response system quoted me with when they suspended my account.
To summarize, here’s the requirements under the “Spam and quality” section:
- Original content
- User friendly formatting
- Landing page that’s consistent with the Pin
This means your pin should not open a link that’s completely different from what that pin is all about. Otherwise you’re considered misleading the audience.
And the following types of content will be removed by pinbot:
- Unwanted messages with commercial intent
- “Attempts to artificially boost views and other metrics”
Guess the word “follow back” is what Pinterest considers “attempts to artificially boost views”. Avoid using it at all costs, no matter what the context is. In my case, it’s not exactly considered “spam”, but pinbot still automatically suspended me.
- Repetitive posting
- Cloaking links
- Misleading content including “deceptive” designs and “pop-ups”
As you can see, Pinterest only provides the exact link and reference to both its “Acceptable Use Policy” and the “Spam Policy”.
So, what is this “Pinterest Acceptable Use Policy”? That’s basically everything included in Pinterest Community Guidelines.
In a nutshell, you want to make sure you don’t do any of the following prohibited practices:
- Pornographic content
- Hate speech
- Content and messages containing physical or emotional violence
- Personal attacks
- Selling regulated goods such as “drugs, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, etc.”
- Impersonating a person or organization
For instance, even if you’re a huge Elon Musk fan, you cannot create a Pinterest profile and pretend you are Elon. That’s quite obvious, right?
- Violating intellectual property rights
Not only will you get into trouble with Pinterest if you steal other people’s Pins, images or content, you might also get sued by the original content owner.
Never, ever, steal. Create original content instead.
- Hacking Pinterest
I don’t think anyone reading this post would be interested in doing that. But for completeness’ sake, have to list this item here as well.
- Requiring usage of certain images when pinning
These high-level guidelines may not be as specific as you’d like to completely avoid suspension.
No worries, get the list below for common practices that might get you suspended, as well as tactics and specific Pinterest contact email that will get you connected to a real human being.
SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENTS IN PINTEREST SUSPENSION PROCESS
Rumor has it that Pinterest is targeted to become a publicly traded company in 2019.
Equity financing is certainly nice, but at the same time, Pinterest will have to start bearing more social responsibilities and be held to a higher standard when it comes to account suspension and resolving user issues.
When publishers like us spend so much time and effort creating content on social media platforms, we don’t expect to get kicked out of our own account without sufficient grounds.
I’ve heard through the grapevines that sometimes Pinterest account reactivation took weeks or even months for account owners.
My case was relatively quick because I took drastic measures as quickly as I could. And that’s why I wrote this thorough guide to help you get out of the “Pinterest jail” as fast as possible.
Unfortunately, incidents like this still happen on a regular basis on practically all social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram…. you name it.
Something needs to be done.
Based on my personal experiences, I’d propose for Pinterest to make the following changes:
- Do not use automatic response for the two-day waiting period after clicking “appeal” link in the original suspension notification email
Looking back, that’s simply a system-generated, cold-blooded email without a real review of the suspended account. That’s something Pinterest should stop doing if they want to maintain good customer relationships and word-of-mouth marketing.
An automatic decline of reactivation is not the proper approach when someone “appeals” a case.
A real person will have to review the account and make a decision.
- Be more cautious and develop more sophisticated automatic suspension tools that won’t suspend accounts simply because of triggering words
For example, the phrase “follow back” could mean anything, it could be in the context that says “I won’t follow back if our niches are not good match”.
That’s practically what I meant when I typed in “follow back” in the Facebook group thread. And that got me suspended for almost three days.
It’s not fair to mechanically apply filers based on certain phrases that are considered “red flags”.
Investigate first before instant suspension.
Seems like Pinterest lacks the manpower to give each case a through review. Instead, they have been mindlessly closing people’s accounts with automatic responses and pinbot.
That has to stop.
Pinterest is a great visual search engine for digital marketers and bloggers to attract more readers and generate more traffic.
However, as Pinterest continues to perfect its user experiences and enhance public safety, there’s definitely room for improvement to make it a less disruptive and more stable service for all users.
Leave a comment below to share your own experiences with Pinterest suspension. And I’d LOVE your thoughts on whether you think further escalations are needed to effect positive improvements in that process.
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