Prisoner of Klout

A couple of months back, I wrote about online influence tool Klout, and their approach to how they build their membership (they use opt-out profiling, versus the more widely-used opt-in).

The main concern I had was the fact it was so difficult to leave Klout if you didn’t want to be seen as endorsing their product. As of today, two months later, my profile is still live, despite requests to be removed.

While the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Empire Avenue allow you to delete your account with one click, Klout has a bunch of hoops to go through – and even then, it would appear it doesn’t make much difference.

To his credit, Joe Fernandez – the CEO of Klout – reached out to me via email and addressed the fact that they were still working on how to best approach the opt-out / opt-in process, and that he would love to hear some ideas.

I sent an email back to Joe, but haven’t heard back yet – understandable, I can appreciate he’s busy. So here’s the reply below:

Hi Joe,

I think the single biggest issue is that it’s so difficult to leave.

I understand completely how you gather the information, but the advice from your marketing manager Megan on how to stop yourself from being measured isn’t very business-friendly. Megan’s advice is to make your feeds private – but for someone who does a lot of their business online, making your feeds private is like committing commercial suicide.

Let’s say every single person online did that – Klout itself would have no reason to exist, since your information-gathering tools would have nothing to gather. So you can see the folly of that approach.

There are millions of people wanting to use Klout as a barometer of their “existence”. Fair enough – that’s your audience and the people you sell to investors and companies buying into the Klout ideal.

But there are also many people who don’t wish to be a part of a non-regulated system, and one that can (rightly or wrongly) be used as a third-party validator for expertise. For those people, it should be a simple option of “Delete My Account”, which the likes of Empire Avenue, Facebook, Google, Twitter and more offer.

Making it easy to leave should be as simple as it is for Klout to set up an account for you in the first place, whether you approve it or not.

Thanks for listening,

Danny.

As an addition to this, my friend Lucretia Pruitt had a great idea. Simply have a page that says “This user does not wish to be profiled by Klout, and we respect his/her wishes.” And for that user, don’t allow the option of being pinged by people on Twitter to check their Klout score, nor be invited to Klout itself.

I know there are many people for whom Klout is incredibly useful. I know there are also many people for whom Klout is just a bit of fun, or something they want no part in (especially when it comes to affecting your career path, based on a limited algorithm).

For these people, let them have the option of not being profiled on Klout. Then everyone is happy, and no-one can accuse the platform of just trying to boost numbers by having profiles on there that don’t want to be.

How about you – what would you suggest Klout does better when it comes to people who have no interest in being on their platform?

Update: As of November 1st 2011, there is an Account Deletion option in the Klout dashboard. Finally.

image: remuz

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175 comments
ab2bc
ab2bc

Hi Danny, after reading this post, I opt'd out of Klout. I wanted to before and didn't see the option available. One perfect example of the misguidance is how a pretty face attracts traffic. The prettier the woman, the greater the following, thus the higher ranks they achieve. This is so widely know that men have incorporated using female images in their profiles attracting more attention to their endeavors. I am caught in the numbers game myself, but work hard at building up those numbers.

ab2bc
ab2bc

Hi Danny, after reading this post, I opt'd out of Klout. I wanted to before and didn't see the option available. One perfect example of the misguidance is how a pretty face attracts traffic. The prettier the woman, the greater the following, thus the higher ranks they achieve. This is so widely know that men have incorporated using female images in their profiles attracting more attention to their endeavors. I am caught in the numbers game myself, but work hard at building up those numbers.

bluebus
bluebus

@andypiper Thanks for the heads up on klout. A friend has had concerns that I ignored and it does now look like I was being lax.

bluebus
bluebus

@andypiper Thanks for the heads up on klout. A friend has had concerns that I ignored and it does now look like I was being lax.

Val_Ce
Val_Ce

@Giaskincare @dannybrown #BoaNoite

sanford
sanford

Interestingly, we at PeerIndex offer a setting in your profile to opt-out of tracking - in keeping with the wishes of our members. Check your Settings page for me.

sanford
sanford

Interestingly, we at PeerIndex offer a setting in your profile to opt-out of tracking - in keeping with the wishes of our members. Check your Settings page for me.

jureklepic
jureklepic

Danny in fact they can remove your profile if they really want, check this out http://klout.com/loudmouthman he got removed of course after few email exchanges! :) Just how accurate Joe with his info!

AdamWeitner
AdamWeitner

I have a feeling that the backlash they are receiving today regarding the new updates to their algorithm (read comments at the bottom of the blog here: http://corp.klout.com/blog/2011/10/a-more-accurate-transparent-klout-score/) is only helping to keep them anti-opt-out. Had the option to opt-out been easy and readily available, they would have likely lost a great number of users today, and you can be damn sure they know that. I am feeling less confident there will ever be an opt-out, save for some kind massive legal case against them that forces them into it... Sigh...

AdamWeitner
AdamWeitner

I have a feeling that the backlash they are receiving today regarding the new updates to their algorithm (read comments at the bottom of the blog here: http://corp.klout.com/blog/2011/10/a-more-accurate-transparent-klout-score/) is only helping to keep them anti-opt-out.

Had the option to opt-out been easy and readily available, they would have likely lost a great number of users today, and you can be damn sure they know that. I am feeling less confident there will ever be an opt-out, save for some kind massive legal case against them that forces them into it... Sigh...

karirippetoe
karirippetoe

Wow, @DannyBrown - you're really on a tear about Klout lately, aren't you? ;-) I used to be totally into the idea of Klout. On paper, it is kind of a good idea. But the whole thing is becoming more and more convoluted, and I'm just getting more and more disillusioned with it. Our scores depend on an algorithm, and algorithms are by no means perfect. There are lots subtle nuances of influence that just can't be quantified. Most of our scores have dropped quite a bit today, and I fear that too many decision-makers are going to put all their eggs in the Klout-influence basket and someone won't get hired for something as a result. We're talking about a life-changing event hanging on an imperfect score! Joe Fernandez out to think about that and focus on developing an easy opt-out process - rather than on fixing an algorithm that's always going to be broken.

karirippetoe
karirippetoe

Wow, @Danny Brown - you're really on a tear about Klout lately, aren't you? ;-)

I used to be totally into the idea of Klout. On paper, it is kind of a good idea. But the whole thing is becoming more and more convoluted, and I'm just getting more and more disillusioned with it. Our scores depend on an algorithm, and algorithms are by no means perfect. There are lots subtle nuances of influence that just can't be quantified.

Most of our scores have dropped quite a bit today, and I fear that too many decision-makers are going to put all their eggs in the Klout-influence basket and someone won't get hired for something as a result. We're talking about a life-changing event hanging on an imperfect score! Joe Fernandez out to think about that and focus on developing an easy opt-out process - rather than on fixing an algorithm that's always going to be broken.

TNTAnderson
TNTAnderson

Dan, I completely agree with your Klout issues. I dumped Klout this morning. Nothing to do with my score dropping, just another thing that does not matter to me, and I don't want any part of. I thought it was interesting when I first registered. Now it seems use less - too many ways to trick the Klout system. Games I am not willing to play. As they add more 'stuff' to your score, it is just going to get more and more convoluted. Now it seems that my Klout score will haunt me for the rest of my internet life. Guess I can always establish a new online indentity?

andypiper
andypiper

Well @bluebus I've been ignoring concerns about @klout as well but their privacy lapses are unacceptable. Sooner I'm off it the better.

andypiper
andypiper

Well @bluebus I've been ignoring concerns about @klout as well but their privacy lapses are unacceptable. Sooner I'm off it the better.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@sanford Hi Sanford, Does opting out of tracking also mean opting out of having a public profile dispplayed, and tie into something like @LucretiaPruitt 's suggestion? Cheers for the heads-up, appreciated.

M_M_
M_M_

I've sent them 5 emails in the last 48 hours asking them to disable my profile and haven't even gotten so much as an auto-response. I'm emailing the accounts that @meganberry and @klout and @joefernandez keep telling people to send questions to. NO response. Not even an email telling me that they received my message which is common business practice for most online services. I'm wondering how long it's going to take to get them to even respond? Or if they even WILL? @jureklepic@kred

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@jureklepic I know @Brian Driggs finally got his profile removed (and, I believe, that of his wife's) after suggesting he'd raise the issue with over a million readers on his forum. Maybe Klout only understands large numbers themselves... ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@jureklepic I know @Brian Driggs finally got his profile removed (and, I believe, that of his wife's) after suggesting he'd raise the issue with over a million readers on his forum. Maybe Klout only understands large numbers themselves... ;-)

Latest blog post: The Scariest Blogs Ever

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@AdamWeitner You know, that's a good point, mate. It may come down to legal cases, and there certainly seems to be a lot of information for anyone looking to go that route, as per @Brian Driggs comment further down. Looking into international versions. And funnily enough, Bob LeDrew just had a guest post go up here that looks a little more at the overnight changes. ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@AdamWeitner You know, that's a good point, mate. It may come down to legal cases, and there certainly seems to be a lot of information for anyone looking to go that route, as per @Brian Driggs comment further down.

Looking into international versions. And funnily enough, Bob LeDrew just had a guest post go up here that looks a little more at the overnight changes. ;-)

Latest blog post: A Klout Upside the Head

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@karirippetoe Haha, I'm guessing the guest post I just set live will only go to enforce that image, miss. :) The algorithm is the biggest flaw - you can't define yourself as "the standard for influence" when you're measuring a very limited (and North American-based) set of platforms. What's disappointing is that the team seem to be blase about solutions, and are more concerned about getting their numbers up. Time will tell if they make (in my view) the right move and allow only those who want to use their system to be part of it, and everyone else can go merrily on their way.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@karirippetoe Haha, I'm guessing the guest post I just set live will only go to enforce that image, miss. :)

The algorithm is the biggest flaw - you can't define yourself as "the standard for influence" when you're measuring a very limited (and North American-based) set of platforms.

What's disappointing is that the team seem to be blase about solutions, and are more concerned about getting their numbers up.

Time will tell if they make (in my view) the right move and allow only those who want to use their system to be part of it, and everyone else can go merrily on their way.

Latest blog post: A Klout Upside the Head

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@TNTAnderson Hey there Tim, That's the really annoying thing, mate - they put you on their system easily enough, but make it damn hard to leave. Maybe they should rename themselves Kult...? (I'm only half-joking).

sanford
sanford

@DannyBrown@LucretiaPruitt No problem Danny - happy to be part of the conv. Simply put, we are making it such that the first call is to remove you completely - nothing in our database. We do have in the roadmap the ability to provide a no-robots like feature which means your info can be included, but not seen by the web crawlers. Additionally, we are focusing on providing more control over your own data in the coming weeks. Be ready for a change in the conversation.

sanford
sanford

@Danny Brown@LucretiaPruitt No problem Danny - happy to be part of the conv.

Simply put, we are making it such that the first call is to remove you completely - nothing in our database. We do have in the roadmap the ability to provide a no-robots like feature which means your info can be included, but not seen by the web crawlers. Additionally, we are focusing on providing more control over your own data in the coming weeks. Be ready for a change in the conversation.

jureklepic
jureklepic

@M_M_ Hey I dont know in which country you live, but by the law they have 30 days time to reply on you request. You might want to send them next: Your Name: Address City, State Zip Klout Inc. Megan Berry Privacy Officer 77 Stillman Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 Tel: 415-520-3951 Fax: 415-777-2001 Re: Cease and Desist Dear Ms. Berry: Pursuant to my rights under federal privacy law, I am requesting that you: a.) cease and desist communication with me, b.) stop tracking my online activities on various social media platforms, c.) stop sharing my personal information with 3rd parties without my consent d.) permanently delete my account that you created on your website (www.klout.com) without my prior consent. You are hereby notified that if you do not comply with this request, I will immediately file a complaint with the Federal Privacy Commissionar office, and the San Francisco Attorney General’s office. Civil and criminal claims will be pursued. Sincerely, Your Name Hope this help.

jureklepic
jureklepic

@DannyBrown@Brian Driggs I just want to make small correction that i discovered this morning. Id you have good eye you will see that they dont deleted your account, but they only mask your account behind THIS ACCOUNT IS CURRENTLY DISABLED. I checked this morning and catch Brian's profile for few seconds, with score and topics. I bet 3rd parties companies will still see your data. Is despicable what they are doing and trying to play us around!

Brian Driggs
Brian Driggs

Actually, Danny. My wife's profile is still up there, despite my being told to follow Klout with her account, send them a DM to confirm account ownership, and request removal. Just more subterfuge, I guess. Then again, never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance, right? Just a shame to see an organization which so clearly cares very little for people stand to make such significant profits on the names and likeness of those people. And it just makes me sad to see they are so nonchalant about what is clearly a legal issue. Neither Klout's not Twitter's Terms & Conditions supersede the laws of the state of California wherein they make their headquarters. They're lucky the bulk of the people whose influence they've rated either don't know or don't care. Oh, and I noticed @JoeFernandez was participating in #toolschat from Dublin last night. "Tools Chat," indeed.

jureklepic
jureklepic

@M_M_ Hey I dont know in which country you live, but by the law they have 30 days time to reply on you request. You might want to send them next:

Your Name:

Address City,

State Zip

Klout Inc.

Megan Berry

Privacy Officer

77 Stillman Street,

San Francisco,

CA 94107

Tel: 415-520-3951

Fax: 415-777-2001

Re: Cease and Desist

Dear Ms. Berry:

Pursuant to my rights under federal privacy law, I am requesting that you:

a.) cease and desist communication with me, b.) stop tracking my online activities on various social media platforms, c.) stop sharing my personal information with 3rd parties without my consent d.) permanently delete my account that you created on your website (www.klout.com) without my prior consent.

You are hereby notified that if you do not comply with this request, I will immediately file a complaint with the Federal Privacy Commissionar office, and the San Francisco Attorney General’s office. Civil and criminal claims will be pursued.

Sincerely, Your Name

Hope this help.

jureklepic
jureklepic

@Danny Brown@Brian Driggs I just want to make small correction that i discovered this morning. Id you have good eye you will see that they dont deleted your account, but they only mask your account behind THIS ACCOUNT IS CURRENTLY DISABLED. I checked this morning and catch Brian's profile for few seconds, with score and topics. I bet 3rd parties companies will still see your data. Is despicable what they are doing and trying to play us around!

Brian Driggs
Brian Driggs

Actually, Danny. My wife's profile is still up there, despite my being told to follow Klout with her account, send them a DM to confirm account ownership, and request removal. Just more subterfuge, I guess.

Then again, never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance, right? Just a shame to see an organization which so clearly cares very little for people stand to make such significant profits on the names and likeness of those people.

And it just makes me sad to see they are so nonchalant about what is clearly a legal issue. Neither Klout's not Twitter's Terms & Conditions supersede the laws of the state of California wherein they make their headquarters. They're lucky the bulk of the people whose influence they've rated either don't know or don't care.

Oh, and I noticed @JoeFernandez was participating in #toolschat from Dublin last night. "Tools Chat," indeed.

LucretiaPruitt
LucretiaPruitt

The problem is that legal cases cost money. And you have to be able to show damages - you can't just say "that guy is posting information that is publicly available and I don't want him to!!" Even with the 'score' - well, Rotten Tomatoes shows scores on movies - and it's considered an opinion. Until someone can show that a 'low Klout score' somehow impacted him/her materially? You aren't going to see any lawsuits here in the US.

LucretiaPruitt
LucretiaPruitt

The problem is that legal cases cost money. And you have to be able to show damages - you can't just say "that guy is posting information that is publicly available and I don't want him to!!" Even with the 'score' - well, Rotten Tomatoes shows scores on movies - and it's considered an opinion. Until someone can show that a 'low Klout score' somehow impacted him/her materially? You aren't going to see any lawsuits here in the US.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@sanford@LucretiaPruitt Great to hear, Sanford, and will check out these features more. Cheers again, sir.

jureklepic
jureklepic

@M_M_ Yes even if you are in USA! If you need anymore help message me on my twitter and i will help you!

M_M_
M_M_

Even if I am in the USA? (Thank you!) @jureklepic@kred

jureklepic
jureklepic

@M_M_ just send them the letter above and they will disable your profile asap.

M_M_
M_M_

Thank you. I do not have the money to get a lawyer to follow through with civil and criminal claims. That is one of my big problems. @jureklepic@kred

jureklepic
jureklepic

@DannyBrown@LucretiaPruitt Well I will show them that Canada protects their residents CPI and PIPEDA loves company who breaches privacy concerns :)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@LucretiaPruitt True. Although there's always a first, especially in the litigation-happy US. ;-)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] A Letter to @JoeFernandez of @Klout Online influence tool Klout uses an opt-out method of profile building as opposed to opt-in. Here's a simple way to reverse that and make Klout better. Source: dannybrown.me [...]

  2. [...] I don’t think much of Klout. I have several reasons for that, mostly based on the limitations of their methodology and the crudity of a 1-100 score in representing the vague concept of influence. As a game, it’s amusing. [...]

  3. [...] A Letter to @JoeFernandez of @Klout Online influence tool Klout uses an opt-out method of profile building as opposed to opt-in. Here's a simple way to reverse that and make Klout better. Source: dannybrown.me [...]

  4. [...] A Letter to @JoeFernandez of @Klout Online influence tool Klout uses an opt-out method of profile building as opposed to opt-in. Here's a simple way to reverse that and make Klout better. Source: dannybrown.me [...]