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Pinterest Nukes a Million Spammer Accounts – Mom is Pleased

Peter Claridge

The interwebs was abuzz late last week as Pinterest wielded the dreaded Axe of Spammer Death and banished spam accounts to the deepest depths of hell. Since Pinterest opened its doors to everyone your Mom & Grandma on 2nd August, the women of the world have been pinning and sharing pictures of bedrooms, cakes, home decorations and paradise beaches in their millions. Some men even ventured on to the site to share a few pictures of cars, but were quickly told that this was childish and immature. Four hundred pictures of hand made teapot cozies are far more appropriate for this site.

Take Lowe’s for example, one of the most popular brands on Pinterest and they’ve not pinned a single power tool or plank of wood. Surely Lowe’s is ostracizing 50% of the population with boards like organizing your 80 pairs of shoes? Although with that said, I might find it within me to begrudgingly admit that people might find their Helpful Hints board of interest and now you mention it, these backyard photos are pretty awesome. And what I’d do to go to some of these places.

Anyway, back to that Axe of Spammer Death…

The incredible success of Pinterest has meant that brands flocked to the social network to showcase their beautifully designed kitchens, furniture in kitchens, utensils in kitchens, cupcakes in kitchens, babies in kitchens, smartphones in kitchens, holidays in kitchens[1] cute animals in kitchens and currently, Christmas decorations in Kitchens.

Also flocking to the site are those dastardly SEO spammers, who, once they realized that Pinterest is driving sales to handbag and shoe sites, saw big juicy dollar signs. Thus, when dear old Grandma clicked on a picture of the latest exquisite cupcake (complete with a nature scene depicted in delicate icing), she would be taken off to unsavory sites the likes of which you warned her about the day you set up her broadband and Skype.

When Facebook wielded the Axe of Spammer Death back in September, it was because many people felt that size mattered and a vibrant industry of spammers creating fake accounts flourished. Page admins then bought fans by the truckload in what could only be described as “my gun is bigger than your gun”. Over several days, brand and celebrity pages lost tens of thousands (and in some cases, hundreds of thousands) of fans as Facebook cleared out fake accounts designed to do nothing more than Like pages paid for by insecure page admins.

Now, Pinterest has made small inroads in to deleting fake accounts. Some have said it was a bloodbath, but the fact of the matter is that, so far, it’s only affected the boards with the largest brands. I think we have got beyond the whole buying fans and followers thing (or at least, most countries have), Pinterest was more concerned about spammers posting misleading, offensive or just downright junk content that your poor old Mom might click on.

It’s interesting to see that the slash and burn has affected the follower count of so few brand pages. The chart below shows the most popular brands on Pinterest that have over 1m followers. Brands with the most followers before the purge lost more fans.

The biggest loser was L.L. Bean, which lost a staggering 760,000 followers. The graph below shows that it took about 36 days for L.L. Bean to gain the 760,000 followers that it lost. After just a few days, L.L. Bean has already recovered nearly 40,000 followers, so not the end of the world then.

L.L. Bean Pinterest Followers

In terms of percentages, most of the 1m+ follower brands lost an average of 20% of their followers, although brands with fewer followers lost a much smaller percentage. The social media team at United Colors of Benetton must have woken up on the Friday and wondered what had happened as they lost 40% of their followers.

Percentage of Followers Lost

It’s surprising to see that just the most followed brands saw losses. When compared to brands with between 50,000 and 1m followers, the losses were minimal, as the chart below shows. Most brands in this category actually increased their followers.

Smaller Pinterest Boards Follower Loss

Brands with less than 50,000 followers were even less affected by the Axe of Spammer Death. These brands even managed to increase their followers.

Follower growth of smaller boards on Pinterest

All in all, a very good move by Pinterest. It looks like they’ve removed close to 1m followers. We don’t know if this is the end of the current purge, but given how few brands have lost followers, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a Pinterest Axe of Spammer Death II sometime in 2013.

[1] Which scores ten out of ten for recognizing what’s most important on Pinterest.

your Mom