Two days ago, social influence tool Klout published a blog post on how they had updated their algorithms to answer critics of their service.
From the post:
Today, we’re introducing some of the most significant product updates in Klout’s history. With these updates, we’ve concentrated on helping everyone to gain a clearer, more accurate understanding of how they influence other people through the ideas they share.
As part of the update, Klout promises “increased accuracy”. Which is great, as this is one of the core complaints about the service. They also promise more transparency, more data, real-world influence. And a shiny new site design…
However, one glaring omission from the post is the question of Klout and privacy.
There have been numerous posts written about Klout’s policy of creating profiles without the explicit permission of users, and the fact you have to opt out of the service if you don’t want profiled.
Worse still, though, was the discovery that minors under the age of 18 were being profiled by Klout, from something as innocuous as being connected to their parent on Facebook.
Due to the backlash against this practice from numerous bloggers, Klout CEO Joe Fernandez came out and stated “Klout has no interest in profiling minors”.
So, why does the Klout website have a profile for an 11 year old kid (click to expand)?
This is the son of a friend of mine, Jennifer, who brought it to my attention that both her kids were being profiled by Klout. Her son is the 11 year old pictured here, and her daughter is 14 later this year.
Both profiles are clearly there for all to see. Not only that, but her daughter’s profile on Klout shows who she influences. One is her brother, the other is her friend – also 14.
Jennifer spoke with both her kids, and neither of them even know what Klout is, never mind that they have a profile on there.
So, despite all the questions about privacy and minors, and despite Klout’s statements that this would be fixed, it’s clear the company is still adding profiles of children that fall under Klout’s own privacy terms.
These terms have actually been updated, since it was previously under-18’s that weren’t “allowed” on Klout. Even so, is it really fair for any company to take a kid’s details and parade them on a site where numbers attract advertisers?
And while Klout advises parents to monitor their kids’ online activities, it’s hard to do this when you have to be logged into Klout to see your kids (if you opt out, you get redirected to a Facebook or Twitter sign-in page).
Now, it could be said that the kid shouldn’t be on Twitter (and thus, Klout) in the first place, since he’s under 13 years old. But as we move towards a more online world, kids are going to go online anyway – the best approach for many parents, and one that they’re taking, is to help guide them on the way.
With that in mind, isn’t it about time Klout quit adding profiles on an opt-out basis, and only has people on there who have voluntarily opted in? Maybe then parents wouldn’t have to worry about their kids being taken advantage of in this way.
Heck, there’s already enough online pitfalls to try and keep our kids safe from without a social score to worry about…