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Pinterest’s Misinformation Crackdown Snowballs into Politics

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Jun. 18 2019, Updated 9:16 a.m. ET

Anti-abortion group accuses Pinterest of playing politics

An effort by Pinterest (PINS) to curb the flow of misinformation on its platform seems to be snowballing into a political debate. Pinterest has kicked off anti-abortion group Live Action from its platform, accusing it of promoting dangerous medical conspiracy theories, according to a Bloomberg report. But the group has struck back, accusing Pinterest of being one of the digital platform operators trying to silence conservative viewpoints.

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Last year, Facebook (FB), Google (GOOGL), and Twitter (TWTR) banned Alex Jones and his multimedia outlet InfoWars from their social networks, accusing Jones and the website of spreading dangerous conspiracy theories. PayPal (PYPL) also joined the fray by not processing payment transactions for InfoWars. But Jones and InfoWars accused these companies of trying to stifle conservative voices.

Social media companies walk tightrope in content moderation

As social media companies try to curb the flow of potentially toxic content on their platforms in a bid to foster healthy conversations, they find themselves walking a tightrope, as their actions can be interpreted as a political stance and result in backlash from a section of their users and customers. Efforts by Facebook and Twitter to tackle fake news, including shutting down suspicious accounts, have drawn criticism, including from the White House, as being anti-conservative campaigns. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have explored setting up independent panels to advise them on how to handle divisive content posted to their platforms.

Pinterest’s social network had 291 million monthly users worldwide at the end of the first quarter. Women make up two-thirds of Pinterest’s audience.

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