On Klout

May 18th, 2012 § 3 comments

You’ve probably heard of Klout. It measures social media influence, using Twitter, Facebook, linkdin as other social media site. For select people with big Klout scores brands can give ‘perks’ like laptops, cinema preview screenings, flights and other stuff.

There’s also a down side that affects people negatively, even people that have never heard of Klout and what it’s about…

Last spring Sam Fiorella was recruited for a VP position at a large Toronto marketing agency. With 15 years of experience consulting for major brands like AOL, Ford, and Kraft, Fiorella felt confident in his qualifications. But midway through the interview, he was caught off guard when his interviewer asked him for his Klout score. Fiorella hesitated awkwardly before confessing that he had no idea what a Klout score was.
The interviewer pulled up the web page for Klout.com—a service that purports to measure users’ online influence on a scale from 1 to 100—and angled the monitor so that Fiorella could see the humbling result for himself: His score was 34. “He cut the interview short pretty soon after that,” Fiorella says. Later he learned that he’d been eliminated as a candidate specifically because his Klout score was too low. “They hired a guy whose score was 67.”

All their data comes, not only from the accounts that have actively signed up to Klout, but from everyone using social media. If you haven’t signed up to Klout they will still trawl all your public data. It’s public. That’s fine. They need that data to put together their scores. It’s public, anyone can see that data and use it how ever they want.

The problem comes because everyone has a Klout profile. Even if you’ve never heard of Klout, you still have a Klout profile and so a Klout score. If you’ve not signed up to them and they only have your public data to go by, your score is going to be pretty low and so are potentially risking what happened to the guy in the quote above. And that’s pretty shitty.

You’re basically in a competing in something when you didn’t know you’re in a competition.

I say everyone has a Kluot profile, but that’s not strictly true. You can, of course opt-out of Klout, but how can you opt-out of something you’ve never heard of? The obvious answer is, you can’t.

Here’s what Klout say about why people that have never registered for Klout have a profile

I have never registered for Klout, why do I have a Klout profile?

Klout collects public data in order to accurately measure influence. Users can control the data available to Klout by changing the privacy setting on individual networks. Klout will never access your private data unless we have explicit permission.

That doesn’t really answer the question, does it? That ‘answer’ explains why data is collected and how a user can control what data is collected, but the question is asking about a non-user. A non-user shouldn’t have a profile. All sorts of websites collects data from non-user, for various reasons, but non of them creates a profile, or the one or two that I can think of do not do so for the explicit reason of rating you in a popularity contest you want nothing to do with or know nothing about.

Oh, I nearly forgot, there is that opt-out option, if you know about Klout.

Opting-out is an option, but as Klout is all about collecting as much data as possible, the link to opt-out is hidden amongst they privacy statement. It would be nice to have it on their front page. Nothing to big, just a link down the bottom with their T’s & C’s and their other links to thier blog and ‘about’ page.

And of course to opt-out you need to tell them who you are and what profiles on what networks are yours. To opt-out, you have to give them the information they want if you were signing up to them.

Do I opt-out, giving them what they want, or do I carry on ignoring them and hope I’m not one of the unlucky suckers? I reckon, I’ll keep my head down and not actively put myself on their radar one way or another. After all, It won’t happen to me. Will it?

To the solution.

Klout collects data on everyone. That’s fine as all their data is from public sources, but why does everyone (unless opted-out) have to have a Klout profile? Surely a better way of going about things would be to only give people that have actively signed up to the what-ever-it-is-Klout-is (Service? Network? Popularity contest?) a profile? for everyone else, when their name, profile is checked by another user, give a ‘profile not known’ or ‘this user doesn’t seem to have registered’ message. That way people that aren’t aware of or don’t want to take part in the contest aren’t unfairly judged by doing badly in it.

It would also give Klout a boost by not getting bad press for fucking people over in the style above. Everyone really would be a winner.

You can opt-out of Klout here.

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§ 3 Responses to On Klout"

  • Lauren says:

    You’re wrong about other mining sites not creating a profile – Favstar does it, for one. But their opt-out is in their FAQ.

    • Sim-O says:

      Hi Lauren,

      There is a difference between the two sites, they’re not really comparable, although after only a brief look at Favstar I could be completely wrong and talking out my arse.

      Favstar, if I’ve understood it correctly from their guff so it could be different in actual use, seems to be a way of tracking favourites and retweets. You can see who’s favourited your tweets stuff. Another bit of tracking that Twitter 3rd party apps have been providing for a while and Twitter itself has been doing over the last couple of redesigns.

      It has leaderboards that show popular tweets and tweeters, because those tweets and people may be of interest to others, but (and this is where I’m expecting to be wrong) Favstar doesn’t set anybody up as an authority or give them various degrees of influential-ness.

      Obviously people are naturally going to infer something from the leaderboards, but that’s their own conclusions from all Favstars’ guff, they don’t infer that sort of thing themselves and the language they use wouldn’t give anyone the impression they do either.

      And you’re right the opt-out is in a better place.

      Presumably, the profile is created on Favstar that mirrors ones’ twitter profile so that the tweets they mine can be attributed. I’m fairly ok with this. As I said earlier, Favstar do not confer themselves any influence or importance on the profiles, It isn’t a race, a competition, unless the active users want to make it into one.

      Basically, it’s a tracking site, so you can get another metric on how your Twitter campaign is going.

      Klout on the other hand, has set itself up as something you can use for leverage, something that people can refer to to tangibly see how much of an effect you have in social media. It is deliberate and it’s only purpose. This score Klout gives isn’t something it’s users are taking and using in this way off their own back like a Favstar user could do with being say, number 3 on the leaderboard.

      To work properly Favstar need (and again, I’m guessing) to create profiles of tweeters to show tweets that people have favourited and retweeted to credit them. It’s internet ettiquette, credit the source.

      Klout on the other hand, doesn’t need to create profiles (or public) of *everyone* on the internet to come up with their rating. It can still use all the public info that it mines, It just doesn’t need to make those profile that haven’t signed up public. If once you sign up you see all the various interactions and they need to be credited, that can still be done without rating publicly rating the people the user interacts with..

      It isn’t fair to be rating people that don’t know they are being gamed/don’t want to be. In fact it’s downright wrong.

      Anyway, I’ve just written another post here, so I’m gonna STFU.

    • Sim-O says:

      Just realised, I completely went off at a tangent in my reply to you there, Lauren.

      Yes, you’re right. There’s probably others too.

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