Monthly Archives: July 2012 has been covering this issue and has details, advice and a link to a Pinterest survey you can fill out if you have been hacked

Mysterious cause of Pinterest user hacks remains unknown. Pinterest now locking accounts.

Since my last blog post on Pinterest users’ accounts being hacked, I have been discussing possible causes of the hack with affected users (see the 25 comments here). The hacking issue seems to be getting worse, and now Pinterest is proactively addressing this issue by locking down accounts that they determine are exhibiting suspicious activity.

Users are getting locked out of their accounts when a possible hack is detected by Pinterest.

On July 10th, Pinterest posted an update to their Account Security customer service page. This update acknowledged that simply changing your password did not always prevent your account from being hacked again. What they suggested that users do if changing the password didn’t work, was extreme.

  • If changing your password does not solve the issue, change your password again and immediately deactivate your account. Please return to this support article in 1-2 weeks for additional instructions; we are working on a process that will enable users to reset their accounts.
  • Unfortunately, we are unable to restore any deleted boards or pins.

Essentially, the user could lose all their pins, and Pinterest would get back to the user in 1 to 2 weeks.

On July 13th, Pinterest posted a new update. In it they let users know that Pinterest would be locking some accounts that had suspicious activity, and the post provided details on how to reset passwords. They indicated it would take several days to get accounts reopened, and they indicated that previous pins wouldn’t be lost.

Here is an example message a user would receive if their account is locked.

(screencap from @sfonzi5)

User survey provides clues into what Pinterest is investigating

On Monday (7/16), Pinterest published a support page that has a Google Docs survey on it. All users who are locked out or have had suspicious pins posted on their account are being asked to fill out the survey. Pinterest likely doesn’t know the exact cause of these hacks and is trying to use detail user feedback to determine what is causing these accounts to be compromised.

The questions in the survey seem to show that Pinterest is casting a broad net in terms of figuring out this issue. Topics in the survey include:

  • Compromised email, Facebook, or Twitter accounts
  • Gift certificates or rewards requiring a Pinterest Login as well as email phishing
  • Third party Pinterest clients and apps
  • How the user accesses Pinterest, even getting as detailed as different phone models
  • The use of antivirus software
  • Browser based 3rd party plugins, add-ons and tool bars

There is no mention of LinkedIn, LastFM or Yahoo accounts. I speculated in the comments of my last blog post , that someone could be using hacked information from those sites to access Pinterest user accounts. The survey questions would lead me to now believe that, that theory was incorrect.

If it was simply an issue of users not being careful with their password or clicking on compromised links, it is likely that Pinterest would not be digging as deep into this issue as they are.

Advice for Pinterest users

If you are hacked, changing your password is the best step to protect yourself.

If you are not hacked, you should be using a password that is unique to your Pinterest account.

At this point, I have to advise that you don’t enter any contests on Pinterest. While many people had their accounts hacked without clicking on anything, it seems that the Pinterest hacks hit the sweepstakes community particularly hard. The likely reason is clicking on hacked pins which are often promotional in nature.

Pinterest has published their own lists of ways to protect your pins. I recommend you check it out.

If you have been affected by the hack, you are welcome to post a comment with any details you think might help others figure out the cause. You can also comment in our active discussion here.

Update 7/21: Pinterest responds to IDG about the hacking. They say:

“We suspect this spam may be related to the recent leaks of credentials from other sites, which serves as an important reminder [for users] to have unique logins and passwords”

One simple tip that can dramatically increase your Facebook fan engagement and reach

One simple tip that can dramatically increase your Facebook fan engagement and reach.

This tip may be so obvious that you are already using it. But if you are not, you should definitely test it out.

Upload a picture with every Facebook post

Sharing a link? Upload a picture first.

Just sharing a text update? Upload a picture first.

Two months ago, I noticed that pretty much the only thing I was seeing in my own personal Facebook feed was photos. I didn’t mind it much because photos (often of funny cats and dogs) were an improvement on what I was seeing on Facebook before (two day old stories, that I already had seen on Twitter). But it took me over a month to take that knowledge and apply it to the @free’s Facebook posts.

For all the talk about the new ways you can promote (read: purchase) your way to reaching more of your existing Facebook fans, simply adding a photo is a free and easy way to dramatically increase your Edgerank and thus get more of your fans seeing your updates.


The results of making every post a photo where dramatic.

Since I started using this technique on June 22, the @free Facebook page has seen a:

  • 400% increase in people “Talking About This”
  • 300% increase in “Viral Reach”
  • 300% increase in “Total Reach”
  • 38% average user reach for our last four updates

I can’t promise you the same results. At the same time I got started posting pictures, I also started adding a question or Facebook specific call to action (either share or like) with about one-third of the posts. However, in testing adding images for other accounts I contribue to, and in these case no other changes were made, I have seen a significant improvement. Anywhere from 50% to 200% increase in the key Facebook metric I mentioned above.


The bar has been raised. Sharing a link by copying and pasting it gives you a very small image and a little bit of preview text. By uploading a photo you get an image that is often 2000% bigger (398 x 398 vs 90 x 90), and you can include whatever text or link you want by typing it in to the update box. As users browse through Facebook, images stand out, and images that span the feed are tough to miss.


It is a little more work

Sourcing a suitable image for each post can be difficult. If you are sharing your own content from a blog, then you likely are already visual content on the blog post; just use that. If you are sharing other people’s stories, you can always find a royalty free image for around a dollar. I use 123RF (note this is an affiliate link, I purchase $200 in images a year, so I am a big fan and would recommend them either way). I also recommend ReciteThis which lets you create text based images for free.

I have been adding my posts directly in Facebook. Since third party Facebook apps don’t always process the image first, it can throw off the formatting. Depending on what apps you use, this may not be an issue.

Finally, I have been using link shorteners for links in the body of the post. This takes up less room in the post and is much cleaner looking. I haven’t seen any difference in performance between or, so you can use whatever shortener you like.

I hope this helps. Let me know what kind of results you get.



someecards 12 interest facts

12 Things You Didn’t Know About someecards

These popular ecards have become one of the staples of Interent humor and general snarkyness. I wanted to learn more about this company that is everywhere on Pinterest and Facebook. Here is what I found…


1. They didn’t like their own website name

The whole double “e” made it hard to type. People were unsure how to pronouce it. They even considered changing the name a couple months after starting it, but they couldn’t think of anything better. Even now it looks weird typing out someecards. (Source)


2. Valentines Day is when their website is the busiest

Either people are sending the cards to lovers or creating clever ones to celebrity (read: survive) their singleness. (Source)


3. We can all thank Hallmark and American Greetings for not being real

When either of the someecard founders went to existing online greeting card sites in 2008, “there wasn’t a single message there that we’d ever want to send.” (Source)


4. yourecards have gotten much better - When someecards first started allowing user submitted cards it was like,
A year and a half after the site debuted, they started letting users create their own cards (now called yourecards). It didn’t go well at first. The founder compared it to, “walking into a prison — no one in charge, and jokes that were over the top and were more horrifying than clever.” (Source)


5. They are Mad Men with a slice of Onion

Both of the founders were working at ad agencies when they came up with the idea to start the website.  And one of the founders used to work for The Onion. (Source)


6. They tried to get you to vote, but gave up.

No, not vote on the best ecard, but they wanted you to actually vote in government elections. Early on they created the spinoff website It must not have gone well as the site now goes to an Japanese language website. (Source)


7. The New York Times took the unusual approach of using a someecare to illustrate a story on Planned Parenthood funding.


8. Who needs social media?

Sites like Pinterest have obviously raised awareness of the someecards to a whole new level, but one of the founders doesn’t use social media at all. His excuses is that he is working on their site, so I guess we can forgive him. (Source)


9. They predicted Kim Kardashian’s divorce. - Here's hoping Kim Kardashian's marriage lasts until her wedding special airs in October

I know, not difficult.


10. They have a dating site

I guess a shared, blunt and humorous look at the world might be the first step to a lasting relationship. (Source)


11. They whore themselves out.

Ok, way too harsh, but they came from advertising so they have heard all the jokes. Over 25 companies have paid them to create custom eCards for their brands. Walking Dead and Virgin America are two companies that got clever cards made for them. (Source) - In a zombie apocalypse I'd eat you last


12. Apple didn’t always get someecards’ sense of humor

In 2009, when someecards introduced their iPhone app, Apply rejected it. Apple didn’t like cards that poked fun at maligned, but public figures like Roman Polanski and yes Hitler. Apple and someecards must have figured it out because who is more public than Kim Kardashian? (Source)


What do you think of someecards? Do you general enjoy seeing them? Post your thoughts in the comments.



Avoid these images that appeared on hacked Pinterest boards accounts

Protect yourself from the newest hacking of Pinterest accounts.

Update 7/19: The article below is still relevant, and you should check out the comments for ongoing discussion, but I have another update about Pinterest locking accounts along with an official Pinterest hacking survey that all users who had their accounts hacked should complete.

Updated 7/8: Based on user experiences, if you have been hacked, the first thing you should do is change your Pinterest password. This worked for at least one of the Pinterest users who posted in our comments.

It is unclear how hackers are getting access to Pinterest accounts, but in the last three days there has been a number of signs that hacking is again becoming a problem on Pinterest.

Traffic to my post on the March hacking of Pinterest has increased considerably starting on July 5th, and you can find a number of people on Twitter complaining about being hacked.

A blogger for the Identify Theft Resource Center posted a hacking experience. This person believes the issues

might have started on Facebook.

Just now I happened to come across a Facebook post about how to make a very cool iPad case using wallpaper so I thought I would go ahead and pin it so I could check it out later. This is when the trouble began.

I have several different “boards” on my Pinterest to organize what I find online, but the board to which this particular link wanted to post to was called “Make Money Online”.  Fairly certain that I had not created that board, I logged into the site and found that several boards had been created and items had been pinned to them.  The pinned items, when clicked on, would lead someone to either an online job scam or a malware download.

Since I first published this article, two people shared their experiences in the comments, and neither of them believe that they got hacked by clicking something in Facebook.

Pinterest users have also been commenting on some of these hacked pins trying to figure out the issue. A sample of the comments include:

I have been deleting these. I get at least two a day now!

Glad to see I’m not the only one having this pop up on my account and unwanted at that! I’ve reported it every time with no kind of feedback! Every day it reappears under some other board that I didn’t create!

Blogger C McKane has a blog post with some tips on what to do if you account has been hacked.

I included some of the images the hackers have been using at the top of this post. Definitely don’t click on any pin that has these images in it.

If you account has been hacked, please share your story in the comments. If you have a guess as to why the hack might of happen, please post the details so others can avoid this issue.


Pinterest traffic to your blog or website is being underreported

Pinterest traffic to your website might be 64% more than what you think.

Visitors from the Pinterest iOS app are not being tracked as coming from Pinterest in Google Analytics and other log based tracking programs. This underreporting of Pinterest traffic is significant. In my analysis, Pinterest mobile iOS traffic would have contributed an additional 64% more unique visitors from Pinterest than Google Analytics currently reports. To put it another way, 38% of Pinterest traffic is not showing up as coming from Pinterest.

Google Analytics doesn’t track Pinterest iOS App traffic as coming from Pinterest.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. When a person clicks on a image in the Pinterest iOS  app, they are taken to an external website, that website loads in the Pinterest app’s own browser. I tested this myself, and it was also tested by Joe Simonson, a web developer and regular Google Analytics user.

Google tracks this visit as a direct referal on a mobile device with the browser being Mozilla Compatible Agent.

Pinterest underreported traffic by the numbers

I had the unique circumstance where a new site was getting significant traffic that I believed was 90% from Pinterest. But Pinterest (including mobile) was only showing up as 48% of the referrals.

For reference, here are the top ten traffic sources for the month of June.

Because the site was so new, I immediately believed that this direct, no referral traffic could not all be traditional direct traffic like a user entering the url, clicking a bookmark or having enhanced privacy enabled.  Also, all the direct traffic was matching the characteristics of Pinterest referal traffic closely.

The site I examined had these stats for the month of June (all unique visitors):

  • Total Visitors: 53,380
    • Identified Pinterest referals: 25,607
    • Mobile Direct Traffic (No referral): 18,115
      • App Traffic (no referral): 16,410
        • Browser: Mozillla Compatible Agent
        • Mobile: Yes
        • Operating System: iOS
        • Source: (direct)

With identified Pinteret traffic at 25,607, the iOS direct traffic would be 64% of that. I can’t say all the traffic is from Pinterest, but based on  my observations below, I believe close to all of it is.

Traffic Patterns

While it is possible that other apps would occassionaly send traffic to the site I examined, Pinterest referred visitors and direct traffic (with no referral) track together day in and day out for for the entire month. The only exceptions was the two times that this site got promoted on Twitter. In the example below you can see that both the Twitter and App traffic spiked on June 30th, but then in the next hour Pinterest and App traffic again went back to their very similar pattern.

Pinterest Outage

Pinterest’s site being down on Friday evening (6/29) was further confirmation that this traffic was coming from Pinterest (see the second blue box in the image above). I was monitoring Real Time analytics and the traffic to this site just stopped. Both Pinterest referral traffic and direct traffic went to zero. Once Pinterest was back up the traffic resumed it’s normal pattern.

Joe Simonson examined the Google Analytics for the site and determined:

You’ve obviously got a great case here with the power outage to prove the point. But for sites where direct traffic is a possibility, then it will be hard to segment.

Analysis of hourly traffic [Video]

Implications of underreporting

38% of Pinterest referral traffic now coming from the iOS app

If your website gets traffic from Pinterest, it is likely much more than you realize. The site I examined uses responsive web design, so that is part of the reason it does so well on mobile, but 96% of all traffic was new to the site. Thus the quality of the site doesn’t figure that much into where the traffic is coming from (web, mobile browser or app). This leads me to believe that that 38% of all Pinterest traffic, at least from the site in question but possibly in general, is coming from the Pinterest iOS app. And this traffic is not showing up as coming from Pinterest.

*38% is derrived from:

No Source iOS Mozilla App Traffic / (Tracked Pinterest Traffic + No Source iOS Mozilla App Traffic)

The problems with tracking mobile app traffic

Unfortunately for those who want to track how much traffic is coming from Pinterest, the method I used of segmenting direct traffic (no referral, moblie, iOS, and Mozilla Compatible Agent browser) won’t always provide a clear picture of Pinterest traffic, but it will help you figure out when traffic is coming from mobile iOS apps.

Jim Gianoglio, Manager of Insight: Social & Mobile at LunaMetrics, told me that many app visits will show up this way. He indicated that Facebook has figured out a way to resolve this issue with their app, but that Twitter, while better tracking referrals with the link shortener, still sends traffic from their own apps  (as well as many third party apps) without clear referral attribution.

Joe Simonson had a similar perspective. He added that, “Twitter iPhone traffic can be determined by looking at the raw log files, but Google Analytics isn’t going to do a good job of telling you where the traffic came from. So this makes it especially hard for Pinterest traffic. Keeping an eye out for ‘webkit’ strings would give you app traffic, but without some additional info tagged on, it isn’t going to give you the whole story.”

Is there a way to better track these missing Pinterest visitors?

Sadly, no. I did several test pins that had Google tracking code added to them. When clicking through these pins in the app, they just showed up as direct traffic.

My own suggestion is to at least create an advanced segment in your Google Analytics account to be able to track iOS app traffic.

If you already get a significant amount of traffic from Pinterest, the results could be helpful.

If you have any thoughts on this post or have ideas to better track Pinterest iOS app traffic, please post them in the comments.