Pinterest has provided an overview of its latest work to improve representation within its discovery elements in order to maximize inclusion, and facilitate better user experiences for all people in the app.
In a new research paper on the Pinterest Engineering blog, Pinterest has outlined how it’s built a system to ensure greater representation across its Search, Related Products and home feed experiences.
As per Pinterest:
“Specifically, we have developed and deployed scalable diversification mechanisms that utilize a visual skin tone signal to support representation of a wide range of skin tones in recommendations.”
As you can see in these images – the top image on the right shows related Pin matches without the new diversity process built in, while the bottom displays a wider array of people within the related content matches.
As Pinterest notes, the system utilizes skin tone matching within Pin images to ensure a wider diversity of examples are incorporated into Pinterest’s query matching process.
Which could also reduce the relevance of the results. If there are more specific matches that don’t incorporate skin tone diversity, for example, that could mean users are inherently faced with lesser performance due to this element.
But Pinterest has worked to balance this, while it’s also restricted these matches to certain categories, in order to ensure that the process doesn’t interfere with overall performance.
“For search, diversification was introduced for queries in the beauty and fashion categories. For Related Products, it was added for fashion and wedding requests and in New User Homefeed as part of the new user experience.”
The end result has seen Pinterest’s new system improve the diversity of search matches, while also leading to gains in business retention metrics, and improving the overall user experience.
It’s an interesting consideration from the platform, which could help to enhance broader representation within discovery systems.
And that could have even broader impacts – as Pinterest notes:
“As technology becomes increasingly integrated into the daily lives of billions of people globally, it is crucial for online platforms to reflect the diverse communities they serve. Improving representation online can facilitate content discovery for a more diverse user base by reflecting their inclusion on the platform. This, in turn, demonstrates the platform’s ability to meet their needs and preferences.”
Ensuring greater exposure will help to lessen disparity in user experiences, which could lead to broader perceptual shifts based on common usage.
It’s a good initiative, which should be considered by all social apps and discovery tools.
You can read Pinterest’s full ‘diversification in search and recommender systems’ overview here.