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Visualizing Pinterest Policy

Information Design | Visual Epistemology


Fig 6

This project was part of my research as a candidate of Masters' of Design at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.


"By binding the data into a cell with its own logic, protected by encryption, users could restore autonomy to their digital bodies, allowing interactions to involve them instead of acting upon them’’ (Ziemkiewicz & Kosara 2008).

In the online realm, the data we transmit builds our digital identities. These digital identities then interact with the identities of other users intermediated by the servers they inhabit. Users on the other hand have no control over the data, their digital identities, or the servers that occupy it.

As explained by authors Una Lee and Dan Toliver in their zine Building Consentful Tech, consent should be:

Freely Given   Reversible  |  Informed  |  Enthusiastic  |  Specific

Research Question

"There exists an extensive, if sporadic, body of work on how the structure of diagrams and other visual representations shapes our understanding of their informational content."

(Ziemkiewicz & Kosara 2008)

Up until this point in the research it was already concluded that online services often obtain users’ consent without truly informing them about data use. Preliminary experiments showed that complex data, if presented invitingly, can engage users. This engagement may be the first step toward users gaining the agency to understand their data.

Would visualizing an entire consent form or a privacy policy statement from an online platform, lead to engagement from users?


My aim in this project was to break down consent forms of online social media platforms beginning with Pinterest. Visually encode it and interrogate it to fathom areas where there could be concerns about transparency in data sharing. On an average, ‘‘an online consent form is 15 to 20 pages long and could have up to 17,150 words’’ (LePan 2021). To begin visualizing the Privacy Policy of Pinterest, I had to review 4395 words and 48 internal links. This design experiment was based on, ‘‘Visualizing Text Based Data: Identifying the potential of visual knowledge production through design practice’’ (Kasunic & Sweetapple 2015).





Internal Links



Information Visualization works with data while Information Design works with information.


Pinterest Sections

The Privacy Policy of Pinterest as available on the internet has 14 sections. Since the document was complex, I decided to map out the links on the document and track where each link led me. I started with the 14 sections of the consent form as my headings and then documented each internal link that I came across. Some sections on this document had one or no links at all, while some sections had more than 25 links. Breaking down a circle into the first 14 sections gave me a starting point to see how far this visualization could go.


*Pan and Zoom

Project Outcomes

The extent of information contained in these consent forms became evident, and as more was read on network visualization, the question arose of why users were not inclined to read through them.


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By mapping out all the internal links on the consent form, different entry points into the document were created, allowing for easy navigation through the consent form using these links.

‘‘Any network visualization, which is the visualization of relationships (edges or links) between data elements or nodes, in its Macro View should provide a bird’s eye view into the network and highlight certain clusters as well as isolated groups within its structures’’

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