Pinterest is not a social network — and it’s very important to Pinterest that you know that.
The visual discovery startup announced that it’s killing off its “Like” button on Friday, claiming people engage more with Pins when it’s not there, and that some users found it confusing to distinguish between the company’s “Like” and “Save” buttons.
But Pinterest is also trying to do something else: Separate itself from other photo-heavy social platforms where “Like” buttons are prominent, primarily Facebook and Instagram. Pinterest took a not-so-subtle swipe at Facebook and its recently announced VR and AR efforts in its email sent to Recode announcing the change.
“While other companies want you to live in a virtual world, Pinterest encourages people to live in the real world,” a spokesperson wrote. “We like to say, be yourself and not your selfie. There are many services out there with the mission of helping you connect and share with friends; we’re the one app exclusively in the visual discovery business.”
Why is Pinterest trying to distance itself from Facebook and Instagram? We’re not entirely sure.
But here’s a theory: Pinterest is thinking about an IPO, and other public companies that are considered to be in the social space — Snapchat and Twitter — are constantly compared to Facebook. Given Facebook’s size and scale, that’s usually an unfortunate comparison.
Pinterest is clearly trying to plant some seeds so that users (and investors) know it isn’t competing with Facebook. It’s also launching an ad campaign this summer to get that point across. "The No. 1 challenge is getting people to understand that Pinterest isn't a social network," CEO Ben Silbermann told Bloomberg.
Either way, the “Like” button is gone, and Pinterest will save the pins users liked on a separate, private pin board so they don’t go away.
The update will roll out “in the coming weeks.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.