Those plantations are featured on WeddingWire, one of several popular wedding planning websites now working to disallow vendors from using language that glamorizes locales with a history of slavery. The effort comes after Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy group, sent letters urging Pinterest and the Knot Worldwide, which owns the Knot and WeddingWire, to cease promoting plantations entirely.
Pinterest has already started to moderate and limit plantation wedding content on its platform, including search recommendations and notifications. Users who look up “plantation weddings” and similar terms on Pinterest will be warned that some of the results may violate the site’s policies.
Senior campaign director Jade Magnus Ogunnaike told The Washington Post that Color of Change wanted to target platforms like Pinterest and the Knot because millions of couples use them to plan weddings and identify potential vendors. The group realized that some vendors use decorative words like “breathtaking” to describe plantations — venues that evoke painful imagery for African Americans.
“Black people don’t have happy memories of the antebellum period and plantations, where our ancestors were beaten and tortured,” Ogunnaike said. “It’s important the reality of what happened in these spaces is present, versus a romanticization of human rights abuses.”
In addition to the Knot and Pinterest, Color of Change also sent letters to Zola, Martha Stewart Weddings and Brides. The changes promised by Knot and Pinterest were first reported Wednesday by BuzzFeed News.
Always a source of controversy, plantation weddings and tours have been subject to increased scrutiny in recent years. An August Washington Post report highlighted negative online reviews of Southern plantations where white reviewers decried tours that focused too much on “how hard it was for the slaves.”
Plantation wedding venues are frequently advertised online as historic and beautiful. Actors Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds still receive criticism for getting married at the Boone Hall Plantation in South Carolina — described on its website as “one of the most breathtaking wonders of nature anywhere in the world.” The plantation features nine slave cabins.
“[The vendors] are particularly targeting people who want to get married in a ‘Gone With the Wind’ fantasy when black people were slaves,” Ogunnaike said.
Ogunnaike said the wedding planning companies have generally been receptive to Color of Change’s recommendations, and that the conversations are ongoing.
The Knot Worldwide in a statement said it was working with Color of Change to prohibit vendors on its sites “from using language that romanticizes or glorifies a history that includes slavery.” Vendors who do not follow that rule will be removed, the company said.
“Color of Change brought an issue to light about the way venues with a history of slavery describe their properties to couples,” the Knot Worldwide said in a statement. It also said it would educate “vendors on how to respectfully market their businesses to all couples.”
On Thursday, the company apparently alleviated some of the pressure it was putting on the vendors, and instead appeared to take more responsibility for its own guidelines. The company now says it is grateful Color of Change was assisting them to “develop new content guidelines that are grounded in history and respectful to all couples.” The statement no longer specifically addresses vendors with histories of slavery and how they market their properties.
Ogunnaike called the initial efforts from Pinterest, the Knot and WeddingWire — websites she used to plan her own wedding three years ago — an “extremely massive step.” She said Brides also replied to the letter and requested a meeting. But Colors of Change on Wednesday said they had not yet heard from Martha Stewart Weddings, Ogunnaike added.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, Emily Forrest, a communications manager for Zola, told the outlet the company had received the letter but determined “it did not violate our non-discrimination policy.” Responding to The Washington Post Thursday afternoon, however, Forrest said the company had “re-evaluated all our venues listed on Zola and determined we will not allow vendors to list who are plantations.”
“We recognize that this is a painful issue and have been evaluating on an ongoing basis,” Forrest added.
“The conversation around plantation weddings has been happening for years and years in the black community and social media,” Ogunnaike added. “We’re excited to be working with Pinterest and Knot to change the culture.”
Pinterest to give special attention to ‘trustworthy’ retailers
Pinterest is launching a verified merchant program it says will help users “discover and buy from trustworthy brands.” Retailers that are accepted into the program will have their products eligible for distribution within dedicated Pinterest shopping features such as Shop the Look pins or related product carousels.
Verified merchants will get “Verified” badges on their profile and product pins. Their product pins will also show product availability and pricing info. Other front-end benefits will include a special shop tab on their profile that makes it easier for users to see what they sell.
On the back end, verified merchants will receive early access to our the Pinterest insights tool, which helps measure the total sales impact of paid and organic pins.
According to Pinterest, 97% of the top searches on the social media platform are non-branded and 83% of Pinterest users have made a purchase based on content from brands on the site.
Pinterest is rolling out its verified merchant program as part of a broader push to become a full-fledged e-commerce site. In July 2019, the visually-oriented social network began offering personalized shopping hubs at the top of users’ home feeds, as well as an updated shopping section allowing users to browse entire product catalogs and click directly to the checkout page on the retailer’s site if they would like to purchase a pinned item.
In March 2019, Pinterest rolled out “Shop a brand,” a new dedicated section from retailers beneath product pins. Pinterest is also now offering personalized shopping recommendations alongside style, home, beauty, and DIY boards.
Pinterest now has 335 million active users, crosses $1 billion in revenue for 2019
There have been social media platforms that are much-talked about while there are other platforms which go under the radar quite a lot. Most of the times, we have a perception that the platforms that are not in the news might be struggling or the user engagement might not be great there. However, we see reports afterwards regarding those platforms which open our eyes regarding the popularity they possess. One such platform, and the best example we can take of an underrated platform, is Pinterest.
If you have never heard of Pinterest which is quite possible, it is similar to Instagram in a way that it is also an image-sharing platform. On Pinterest, people share images and even add links to sources of those webpages. People can then interact with the media shared on interact and even go to the source and become aware of other websites. There was also an interesting story regarding Pinterest where a leaked document revealed some ambitious targets from the platform.
As per that document, Pinterest expected to have monthly active users to 329 million by 2018. However, the more ambitious part was its revenue target where it was expecting $2.8B by the end of 2018. Now, we have Pinterest’s figures for 2019 and the ambitious targets from Pinterest have been achieved in one department, monthly active users. Yes, Pinterest has just revealed that the platform serves 335 million monthly active users which is what it planned to achieve by 2018.
However, the revenue for them is still quite far but they have still crossed $1 billion in revenue last year. It is worth noting that Pinterest saw a growth of 26% in monthly active users year-on-year and there is no particular reason as to why that happened. Pinterest is a platform popular in European countries such as UK, Germany, France and Italy and it is also similarly popular in the US.
Pinterest Publishes New Update on Employee Diversity and its Impacts on Product Decisions
Pinterest has this week released a new update on its efforts to employ a more diverse and inclusive range of people within its organization, and the impacts that those efforts have had on its product decisions.
As explained by Pinterest:
“It’s hard to feel inspired when you don’t feel represented – online or in your workplace – and research shows that diverse teams make us more creative, diligent and hard-working. When we are building products, a team of people with different backgrounds enables us to think through products, policies, and safety from all angles (for instance, how products could be abused or how they could unintentionally impact a community).”
Pinterest has set a range of targets on staff diversity, and it says that, for the most part, it’s now meeting those aims:
- We wanted to increase hiring rates for full-time women engineers to 25% and surpassed it with a new high of 27%
- We wanted to increase hiring rates to 8% underrepresented* minority engineers and exceeded it at 9%
- We wanted to increase hiring rates for underrepresented minority employees across the company (business and product) to 12% and exceeded it at 14%
This increased focus on diversity has lead to some significant, inclusive product developments, including improved user wellbeing policies, the creation of a gender transition guide for organizations, and the implementation of a ‘skin tone’ search qualifier to hone in on more relevant search results.
In a more progressive, inclusive online world, Pinterest is looking to lead the way in showing how expanding your employee perspective can lead to a more beneficial, supportive and welcoming situation – both for the employees themselves and for those utilizing your services. The outcomes listed here highlight exactly what that looks like in practice, and as the world becomes even more connected, such initiatives will only increase in relevance.
You can read Pinterest’s full ‘Diversity Report 2020’ update here.