Business

For IPO, Pinterest aims to distance itself from Big Tech's problems

Reuters

Pinterest officers — led by Chairman, Co-Founder, President and CEO Ben Silbermann (center) — ring the opening bell celebrating the IPO of Pinterest at the New York Stock Exchange Thursday morning.
Reuters Pinterest officers — led by Chairman, Co-Founder, President and CEO Ben Silbermann (center) — ring the opening bell celebrating the IPO of Pinterest at the New York Stock Exchange Thursday morning.

Pinterest is seeking to distance itself from the problems plaguing social media companies as it begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

It closed this afternoon at $24.45 — 28.6 percent above its initial public offering price.

In its pitch to investors ahead of its IPO Thursday, Pinterest had been touting its strong content moderation practices — seen as a vulnerability for other companies under the political spotlight in Washington, D.C. — as its own area of strength, said Claire McCardell, a senior research analyst at Renaissance Capital.

It’s one of Pinterest’s “selling points,” McCardell said, as companies such as Facebook and YouTube wrestle with rampant disinformation and violent content.

“They’ve really taken pride in that they’re active about removing harmful content, and that it’s a very positive atmosphere,” McCardell said. “They play it safer. They’ll remove anything that could be a potential red flag.”

Silicon Valley’s stumbles in content moderation — during the New Zealand shooting, for example — have set the stage for a broader regulatory crackdown on social media companies.

Pinterest largely has managed to escape policymakers’ spotlight — but it’s not immune from the actions they’re considering amid a wave of “techlash.”

The image-sharing website’s debut will be a test for a host of tech companies planning IPOs this year, and its regulatory filing reveals the risks it faces from a variety of policy changes here and abroad.

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Pinterest warned investors that any changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — a law that gives companies broad immunity from content third parties post on its platform — was a risk to its business. U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are talking about changing the law.

And as the Europe Union considers regulation that would require companies to remove terrorist content swiftly, Pinterest warned it may have to build custom tools to flag such content.

The European Parliament approved a draft version of the legislation on Wednesday evening, the BBC reports, which would require companies to remove offending content within an hour.

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