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Pinterest Tries to Ditch the 'Social Network' Label

Pinterest isn't social -- it's all about me, myself and I.

Asa Mathat for Re/code

Hey you! Stop calling Pinterest a social network!

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann said that while his five-year-old startup has social elements — you can re-pin an image or send someone a private message — he doesn’t view the company as a social network.

Ultimately, the difference for Silbermann, who spoke onstage at Re/code’s annual Code Conference on Wednesday, is that while social networks are intended to connect people with their friends or family, Pinterest* is more about the individual user. You pin something because you want to save it for later, not because you need to share with others, he said.

“When you pin things you’re actually saving them for yourself,” explained Silbermann. “That’s something you want to come back to in your life later. I think that’s a very different [use case].”

This isn’t a new mindset for Pinterest, but it’s still interesting to hear Silbermann say it out loud. In fact, the company has been openly trying to ditch the “social network” label for the past few months. Pinterest says it identifies as a discovery site, and it launched new search tools a little over a year ago that have drawn more comparisons to Google than Facebook.

* Pinterest executive Joanne Bradford is an independent board member of Re/code’s parent company Revere Digital, but has no involvement in our editorial process.

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