Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Picstopin To Picstospam

This post is for giggles.

Picstopin is a website I can only call a spammified Pinterest knockoff. Primarily, it is exploiting Bing's Image Search API to display thumbnails that the search engine Bing would show for some pre-defined search terms, or user-entered search terms. These thumbnails images might be deemed to be fair use in a court of law when diplayed by Bing in the course of a user's search, although they may be considered on the large side. When the same images are exploited by Picstopin through the Bing API, 'fair use' may be compromised - that's the sort of unprofitable legal hair splitting that no one would be expected to drag in front of a judge. It's not surprising that nopin metatags aren't respected, since the source Bing doesn't process them.

These images are arranged in the familiar format popularized by Pinterest, each image decorated by a PIN IT button. That's when the fun begins.

If a user uses the PIN IT button, the image will be credited to the website Gamerboat.com, NOT Picstopin. Gamerboat? What is Gamerboat? I looked up gamerboat.com reviews and found out, ironically, that the web domain I typed in the search query (gamerboat.com) gets obliterated from the search results, and the top result is some random Pinterest page. This demonstrates the negative power of Pinterest links: as they are treated by Google right now, having links on Pinterest is bad for the source website. Here is a screenshot:

That's the first chuckle. In trying to boost the search engine ranking of gamerboat.com via an underhanded linking scheme in Pinterest, Picstopin destroys this ranking, as outlined in this blog's Nasty Linking Practices and Clone Wars.

You can see here: pinterest.com/source/gamerboat.com/ all the images allegedly pinned from gamerboat.com; none of these images actually come from the site.

The second laugh is when a Picstopin user clicks on one of the Bing-provided image thumbnails, they are re-directed to the affiliate website of the day, mediated by Peerfly or Clickbank, for example. In some cases these websites will be denied by your virus blocker, in others, they may have intrusive pop up windows that prevent you from leaving the spam website. You may be enticed to pay for "satellite" service that consists of streams freely available on the internet, entreated to fill out phishing surveys, etc.

Picstopin is just a big old spam/virus delivery system with a honeypot aimed at pin hags. Let's hope the website is a thorn in Pinterest's side, and the hags' sides.

UPDATE: I'm sad to report that Pinterest has flagged Picstopin as a spam site and blocks pinning from it; however, pin hags can still get caught with the PIN IT button as it's coded by the spam-master as belonging to gamerboat.com,


G said...
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G said...

Hey GA - I just pinned several photos from my website via Picstopin. I don't think pinterest is blocking pins from Picstopin.

And what's really bothersome to me about this, I've added the pinterest nopin tag to all webpages on my website. I've tested the effectiveness of the nopin tag a bunch of times when browsing my website, and when browsing my photos via google images, it always worked, always prevented a pin.

(In my case at least) this appears to be an end-around the nopin tag. Would appreciate it if someone else could test this out.

G said...

Correction to above post... I can pin my photos left and right from google images (DAMN IT!), I guess the nopin tag only works if viewing my website?

A Glass Artist said...

The PIN IT button still works on picstopin.

The pinmarklet doesn't work.

The "end-around" the no-pin tag happens because picstopin uses a feed from the Bing search engine. The Bing search engine doesn't read the nopin tag.

Leslie Hawes said...

I am now finding dozens of my images in Google Image search that are credited to picstopin, all inline linked to my database that I pay for.
My search terms for the Google Image search are "lesliehawes.com Pinterest".
When i click on the Google 'visit page button, get an Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage.

Mia McPherson said...

My images show up on the scraper site all the time and it really ticks me off. I wish that hosting provider would shut all scraper sites down or face being sued for big dollars and having to pay stiff fines.