Pinterest today said it is ready to pull back the curtain and reveal its treasure trove of user data to developers. There will be limits, however, and "bad actors" need not apply. Pinterest marks one of the last major social networks to give developers wide access to its users, but it plans to do so in a very controlled fashion.
"We hosted an internal event to see what people in here would build, and the results were really cool," said Josh Inkenbrandt, Pinterest's developer platform lead. "So we realized, we need to be able to start opening this up and see what developers would want to do. We crafted our policies to make sure the incentives are aligned with developers, with Pinterest and obviously with our users. For us, an app that's great is an app where our Pinners are the ones that are benefited the most."
What does that mean for developers? They'll have access to Pinterest's million-plus daily users and 50 billion pins, but Pinterest isn't going to open the flood gates -- at least not yet.
Pinterest data is generally public, but users will still have control over their data. Users will be able to control which apps see their data and will be able revoke access to it at any time if needed. That said, user-generated content on Pinterest is generally evergreen. Content often relates to recipes, or best practices, and other highly-searchable subjects. The very nature of such information should whet developers' appetites.
Pinterest has released APIs before, but they were generally limited to advertising and helping certain brands and their users on Pinterest. It won't use that same approach moving forward. The company plans to keep development partners in whitelist mode -- meaning only approved entities get access. It may limit partners to only several hundred developers at first, with plans to expand only as needed or warranted moving down the road. In other words, Pinterest wants to ease its way into third-party apps.
According to Pinterest, developers will be able to use an initial set of SDKs and APIs -- as yet to be defined -- to "build a personalized, curated experience based on their boards and Pins; and let people easily create multiple Pins or boards to get more of your content distributed across Pinterest."
Information is limited. The company is not simply opening up the SDK and API to anyone. Interested developers need to register with Pinterest before they can even scan what the SDKs and APIs can do.
Pinterest said more information will be available in the days and weeks ahead.