Social media seems to have become a bit of a poisoned chalice recently.
While Facebook struggles to deal with things like suicide live-streams and children’s privacy, Twitter has descended into an opinionated shouting match between the left and the right.
So it’s refreshing to take note of a few changes that Pinterest is making to its platform in order to make it a pleasant way to spend time.
If you think about it – Pinterest is entirely geared around people collating things that make them happy. The app’s users aren’t scrolling through anxiety-fuelling Insta-perfect lives or being battered by judgemental hashtags.
Pinterest has introduced what it calls ’emotional well-being activities’ designed to help its 250 million users if they’re feeling anxious or stressed.
It will automatically step in when users search for negative phrases like ‘suicide’ or ‘mutilation’. The result may direct you to a helpline, or ask if you need some help with a problem or a feeling.
Sometimes, it may just even stop and tell you to take a breath.
As well as these new user-facing tools, Pinterest has also taken action behind-the-scenes. It will now no longer throw up results that may contain inaccurate or false information. For example: ‘vaccines’.
The app hasn’t made a big deal over this, it’s just simply removed the controversial topics born out of uncertainty and internet trolling.
It calls this new approach ‘compassionate search’ and notes that millions of people type in queries around sadness, stress or anxiety every day.
‘If pinners are already actively looking for these things, can we meet them where they are and give them some activities that will help them feel better?’ Annie Ta, product manager at Pinterest, told WIRED.
Small changes like this may not seem much, but if it helps make the online world just a bit more tolerable in a time when many people are reassessing their own relationships with social media.