Pinterest makes platform changes to boost user diversity

Pinterest, the hobby and micro-blogging site, last week announced a series of changes to its platform. The updates are supposed to make the platform easier to use for anyone, and specifically those with disabilities.

Now, pinners who are blind or visually impaired may find it easier to navigate the platform, browse and save pins and ideas.

Pinterest adapted the screen reader to enable easier signing in, browsing and better colour and contrast settings. The resulting colour palettes should be easier to follow with the eyes and more clearly distinguish different parts of the site.

A spokesperson for the company explained:

“Our mission is to help you discover and do what you love, and we want everyone to be included in that mission. That’s why we partnered with Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired to better understand how we could make Pinterest more useful for people with different levels of vision. We’re continuing to make Pinterest more inclusive of everyone. We’ve made significant progress updating our iOS and web platforms to meet the majority of the accessibility standards, and we’re working on bringing these changes to Android soon.”

At the same time, the company rolled out new tools to allow users to modify makeup, hair and fashion ideas to tailor an individual.

Candice Morgan, the head of inclusion and diversity at Pinterest told Wired magazine that until now searches for ‘hair ideas’ weren’t really suitable to her type.

“My hair type is what’s called ‘4C hair’, given the level of coiliness,” she said. “I learned that I needed to add that to my searches in order to find things. It shouldn’t be that way. We were thinking, how can we look at our database of pins and make sure we were in some way matching and labelling content across different groups of people?”

When searching for beauty or hair ideas, users can now specify their skin tone. This automatically filters the results accordingly and provides more personalised recommendations.

Although the machine learning algorithm already does a nice job of filtering, it finds it difficult to distinguish shadows or darker images. In the future, Pinterest hopes to expand the algorithm to learn peoples’ preferences for certain posts and make suggestions based on these as well.