Pinterest Expands Self-Help Tools, Outlines Improvements in Detection of Self-Harm Content

Pinterest Expands Self-Help Tools, Outlines Improvements in Detection of Self-Harm Content


After first launching its self-help tools to assist those searching for terms related to mental health concerns back in July, Pinterest has this week expanded its self-help assistance exercises to cover more types of potential health problems, including depression and self-harm.

Pinterest self help

As explained by Pinterest:

“Now, if someone searches for a term related to self-injury, they’ll find ten new coping exercises that can help them work through difficult emotions and feelings. Each exercise is guided with steps people can take to manage their feelings, such as ways to redirect energy, release tension or create a calm environment.”

As you can see in the example above, the exercises provide tips on how to deal with such issues by re-directing energy into things like “starting a journal and rereading it a few days later to get some perspective on your thoughts”. 

The exercises themselves have been formulated in partnership with The Stanford Lab for Mental Health InnovationVibrant Emotional Health and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Pinterest does note that these activities are not intended to replace professional care, but they may provide quick assistance to those in need via the platform.

“People can also access the collection at any time by searching for #pinterestwellbeing in our app.”

It’s a good initiative from Pinterest, which has the potential to help a lot of users. Linking those people who search for terms related to such concerns to these resources isn’t, as Pinterest says, a solution, but it could provide the relief they need to get a better handle on their situation, and seek further advice. Pinterest also provides links to professional help services within its mental health tools.

In addition to this, Pinterest has also provided an update on its work to improve its detection tools to remove self-harm related content:

Our machine learning technologies are increasingly identifying and hiding [self-harm related] content before anyone sees it. As a result, reports of this content from Pinners decreased by 88% over the last year.” 

In a recent interview with Wired, ​Pinterest’s chief of design ​Evan Sharp explained that the platform ramped up its efforts on such concerns after seeing increases in search activity related to self-harm related topics.

“Lots and lots of people are using it for that – so, how do we hold up our responsibility to do our best to help them?”

Instagram has also boosted its activity to remove depictions of self-harm of late, while just this week, Facebook provided an update on its efforts to remove content related to suicide and self-harm.

Facebook community standards report

As social platforms continue to play a larger role in our interactive process, especially among younger generations, it’s critical that such efforts get more focus, and that automated detection systems continue to improve in order to help people trying to best manage such distress.

Pinterest’s assistance exercises are another good step on this front, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see more platforms adopt similar programs of their own in future.

Pinterest’s latest self-help activities are available to Pinners in the U.S. today, with a broader rollout coming soon.

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