If Pinterest hadn’t gone after affiliate marketers, the FTC might have


On Friday, Pinterest banned affiliate links on its site, claiming that they cluttered up people’s feeds with spam. Most media companies called foul, saying that Pinterest was putting its own financial interest above its users, some of whom would lose big streams of revenue without affiliate links.

There’s truth to that, but it’s not the whole story.

Affiliate links connect a pinned image to the site selling the product. It’s an ad, essentially. But unlike promoted pins, these ads aren’t labeled as such. People with a lot of followers receive money from companies or advertisers to share these images. As a result, the affiliate pins surreptitiously creep into people’s Pinterest streams, disguised as hand-selected content.

This kind of native marketing is a mainstay in the social media era. Celebrities and influencers on all sorts of applications from Vine to Instagram do the same.

But just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s legal. The…

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