Over the years, Pinterest had to redesign its systems and retrain its algorithms to better identify and target different types of users

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

Interesting:

Over the years, Pinterest had to redesign its systems and retrain its algorithms to better identify and target different types of users and map their interests. Hence the question about gender when you sign up, the topic picker that gives the algorithm an initial sense of what you’re into, and the perhaps slightly intrusive (though industry standard) use of browser data that can tell Pinterest whether you’ve visited the site before and how you arrived there.

The question about language and region, for example, has helped Pinterest reach audiences outside the United States, who had previously complained that the platform “felt foreign to them from the moment they signed up.” Well over half of Pinterest’s users now come from outside the United States, which is in line with other social networks of its size. In some ways, those users are helping to point the way to a more inclusive Pinterest: In Japan, for instance, the company reports that men are as likely to become active users as women after visiting the site for the first time.

But dicing users into ever finer subgroups carries its own risks, especially for groups that have historically been underrepresented on the site. Internal data might tell you that welcoming male users with a bunch of macho images boosts activation rates. What it might not tell you is that some subset of male users is turned off, or even offended, by the implicit assumption that they’re into “man caves” or pictures of “beautiful celebrities” who are all women.
Pinterest is working on ways to help users see themselves in the product. In January, the company rolled out one of the first products to spring from a diversity initiative helmed by Morgan and Omar Seyal, Pinterest’s head of core product: a palette selector that lets you filter beauty results based on your skin tone.

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