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Should Pinterest prohibit culturally inappropriate Halloween ideas? | Arwa Mahdawi

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October 30, 2020 at 11:00AM

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The platform has a confusing cultural appropriation policy, but it deserves some credit for attempting to tackle the issue at all

Do you suffer from Justin Trudeau-esque levels of judgment when it comes to fancy dress? Are you scrambling to find a last-minute Halloween costume? Pinterest is here to help save you from yourself! The visual social media platform, which many people use to search for Halloween inspiration, has said it is limiting recommendations for “costumes that appropriate cultures”. This builds on a policy from 2016 prohibiting advertisements with “culturally inappropriate costumes” and making it easy for users to report culturally insensitive content.

But what exactly does Pinterest consider “culturally inappropriate” or “culturally insensitive”? The company doesn’t make that clear. Nor does it make clear what “limiting” means. (I reached out to Pinterest for comment but didn’t hear back.) My own research didn’t provide much clarification: when I searched for “Native American Halloween costume”, for example, plenty of examples came up. There were also plenty of results for “Geisha Halloween costume” and “Arab Sheikh Halloween costume”. And when I searched “terrorist Halloween costume” a picture of a little white boy dressed as an Arab suicide bomber came up.

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