A Letter to Joe Fernandez of Klout

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,


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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