Pinterest has largely been categorized as a social media site dedicated to sharing do-it-yourself projects, recipes and fashion ideas.
But Utah investigators are finding something far more sinister on the website: child pornography.
Utah Internet Crimes Against Children task force field commander Patty Reed said in an interview this week that her office is investigating about a dozen cases in which Utahns may have "pinned" illegal images to their Pinterest boards.
"I thought it was for recipes, decorating ideas and things like that," Reed said. "I was quite surprised that people were pinning child pornography, because everything you post [the public] can see."
Pinterest operates as a sort of digital pin board, where users can share photos and digitally "pin" them on various pages or "boards." Other users can see what images a person has pinned or posted.
Reed said the cases came to ICAC's attention within the last five months. She said all of the investigations are ongoing, and no criminal charges have been filed.
Pinterest administrators first tipped off authorities about the pornographic images, Reed said, adding that by law, websites and social media sites like Pinterest are required to report any instances of child porn on their sites. Using geolocation software, the social media administrators were able to trace the images back to computers used in Utah, Reed said.
While Reed said that while Pinterest is the newest Internet vehicle used to spread illegal images, it remains prevalent on other social media sites. She said they see a lot of child pornography on the social media sites Facebook, MeetMe and Tumblr.