It has been a big summer for Pinterest Toronto. A huge new office space, a spot on Great Place to Work’s Best Workplaces in Ontario list, and openings for dozens of roles including an exciting Country Manager position reporting to Erin Elofson. On…
People Behind the Product: Get to know Pinterest’s Carina Iverson, Senior Content Policy Manager
Pinterest is thrilled to announce that we’ve expanded our misinformation guidelines by adding a specific climate misinformation policy to keep false and misleading claims around climate change off of our platform. This policy makes us the only major digital platform to have clearly defined guidelines against climate misinformation, including conspiracy theories, across content and ads.
For this month’s People Behind the Product, we sat down with Carina Iverson, Senior Content Policy Manager, to learn more about her key role in bringing this policy to life, and what it means to her both personally and professionally.
Thanks so much for talking with us about Pinterest’s expanded climate misinformation policy. What is your role at Pinterest, and in this important project?
We are acutely aware of the harm that can be caused by misinformation and toxic experiences online. On a personal note, I am also a new mom of a pandemic baby that is already obsessed with technology after spending so much time on FaceTime. Soon enough she will be navigating the online world herself and having to face the increasing consequences of climate change.
My team has a number of focus areas but one of the most critical is that we are responsible for drafting and maintaining Pinterest’s Community guidelines. Our guidelines cover a number of policy areas, and are informed by the news and important trends in the real and online world to ensure that we can put in place good policies to keep Pinterest the safe and inspiring place that people need and love.
What inspired Pinterest to develop this policy?
Misinformation is an area we’ve worked really hard on the past several years. In 2017, the team started by creating a policy around prohibiting health misinformation, including anti-vaccination advice and false cures for chronic or terminal illnesses. Since then, we’ve expanded our policy into more areas like election misinformation and conspiracy theories, as we’ve learned more about how online misinformation in these areas can cause real world harm too.
Climate misinformation is the next evolution of our work on this policy. We see the impacts of climate change all the time, especially in California with the awful wildfires, and in my home state of Texas with severe weather. We also talk to experts and hear about the harmful impacts of climate change misinformation and how it impedes efforts to combat climate change. We want to do our part and ensure that Pinners don’t come across any misleading information about climate change.
Can you tell us more about what exactly climate misinformation is? What does it look like and how can we identify it?
Climate misinformation is content that gives false or misleading information about climate change. This includes content that denies climate change exists, denies that humans are influencing climate change, and cherry-picks data to erode trust in climate science. It also encompasses false/misleading content about emergencies like national disasters and extreme weather events. This content takes many forms, like text, graphs, images, or even memes.
What other teams or partners did you work with to bring the expanded guidelines to fruition?
One of my favorite parts of this role is the constant and heavy reliance on collaboration with partners from within Pinterest as well as experts across a number of fields. Importantly, we worked very closely with a number of climate and misinformation experts, including Graphika, the Conscious Advertising Network and the Climate Disinformation Coalition, to both better understand climate change and the climate misinformation landscape as well as to receive direct feedback on our policy approach.
The policy development and implementation process requires an extraordinary amount of effort from a number of teams across Pinterest. Our team is thankful for their incredible and thoughtful partnership everyday. Some of the folks we work most closely with include members of other parts of the Policy Team, the Trust and Safety Operations team, the Public Policy team, the Communications/Public Affairs teams, the T&S Product/Engineering teams, the Legal team and the Tools team.
This sounds like an incredible collaborative effort across the company and beyond. Pinterest recently announced an evolved set of core values. When you think about this work, what value does it evoke for you?
I feel connected to the new “Aim for Extraordinary” value. This policy development and launch was a huge project that took a lot of folks a lot of time and energy. What I view as being inherent in this new value is (1) think big and (2) be smart/do it right.
What are some lessons you learned throughout this work?
This was a complex project and a wonderful reminder of how important it is to approach challenges with humility and patience. I am the daughter of two scientists, but I decided to go to law school instead of pursuing a scientific career. Every time we work on any policy, but especially those that touch on health or science, I am very quickly reminded of why I made that decision. My job is to take a diverse number of expert inputs and turn those into an objective, enforceable and scalable policy. Policy development can be such a labor of love and time, and this project in particular is an example of that. We are launching this policy now because we have patiently let the development process run its course, rather than pushing something out more quickly that we are less confident in. We started by relying on patient experts to help us define, understand and scope the problem. We asked a lot of questions, even if they seemed rudimentary to really make sure we understood. We then took what we learned back to the drawing board to determine what approach made the most sense for our platform. Throughout the process, we continued our work with experts to refine our policy to ensure it was sound, enforceable, informed by diverse viewpoints, and aligned with our company’s mission.
How can Pinners contribute to building a safer, more sustainable future on and off Pinterest?
I encourage Pinners to continue creating and Pinning content that complies with our Community guidelines, and reporting any content they see that does not. We not only use Pinner reports to remove violating content from the platform, but also to inform how and where our policies need to evolve.
We have to ask, what are you currently Pinning?
We recently purchased a house so I am all in on Pinning decor ideas that are sustainability focused. I have found a number of creative ideas for repurposing items we already have, sources to buy unique items second-hand or local as well as furniture retailers that use more eco-friendly materials and processes. It is our first home so I am very excited to start making my Pins come to life to really make it our own.