Enough With The Opt-Out BS, Klout

Prisoner of Klout

Klout sucks. Not because of what they’re trying to do, in measuring your online influence (although I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a fan of that approach for a number of reasons).

Nor do they suck because they’ve engendered a mindset among people to try and grab Klout Perks, based on that perception of influence. Heck, you’ll always have folks that do nothing but want everything for free, so may as well have somewhere for them to spend their time and energy.

No, they suck because they’re stuck in the mindset that opt-out is better than opt-in.

Meaning, they don’t give you a choice when it comes to having a “profile” of you. It doesn’t matter if you sign up to the service or not, or whether you connect your accounts to grow your Klout score.

Because Klout automatically gives you a basic profile anyway.

No permission – there you are, as bright as day online, with whatever score they deem you fit to have based on their perception of you.

Note: I understand that by accepting the Terms of Service on the likes of Twitter, etc, your information can be shared. I’m not sold on that being turned into a full-on profile on another site, though.

I’ll admit, when Klout first came out, I was curious as to how it worked. As someone who needs to connect clients with perceived influencers for outreach and promotional programs, it seemed an interesting way to find those that could help.

Then the flaws appeared.

Just using my account as an example, I recently disconnected all my accounts from Klout, with the exception of Twitter as it wouldn’t let me disconnect that. As a result, my Klout “score” (or influence) dropped from 75 to 63.

So, even though I was still active on the networks I’d disconnected; even though I was sharing the same amount of information, and interacting just as much – if not more – on blogs, Klout felt I was less “influential”.

What they were really saying, though, is that because I wasn’t participating by their rules, I was less influential. Never mind the fact I was still getting “reactions”, if you like, for my interactions online – if Klout didn’t see them, they never happened.

Because I’ve written a fair few times about my lack of “trust” in how Klout perceives influence online, I thought it’d be hypocritical to keep an account there. So I went to delete, which is where the fun began.

I followed the instructions on their site to delete my account, and received an email from Lan at their contact centre advising my account had been removed. This was almost a week ago, and I was advised it could take a day to clear their system.

A week later, and I’m still there, even though I have no desire to be part of the Klout game anymore, nor do I wish to be “on display” on their site, since I (initially) never gave permission.

This is where the opt-out bullshit needs to stop.

It’s more than 10 years since Seth Godin wrote about Permission Marketing, and yet here we are, still being added to things we didn’t have a say in. Fair enough, I added details to Klout, but the initial permission wasn’t there. As it isn’t for anyone.

The Standard for Online and Internet Influence Klout

And to remove yourself, you have to go through hoops to get it done? That’s crap.

It’s not just Klout. Facebook is as bad, as are many other social networks. I had the same issue with Hashable, and got into a debate on Twitter with that service’s founder, who decreed, “Hashable’s not the kind of service people leave, hence there’s no need for an option to delete your account.” (This option was later added.)

Yes. There. Is.

You don’t add people to something and not ask them their permission (unless there’s some legal reason to do so). Especially when that information is there for anyone to see, and make a snap judgement on.

For example, some companies are using Klout scores in the hiring process. If someone has a low score because they don’t know they’re on Klout, and get passed by for a job even though they’re the best qualified, that makes your system screwy (it also doesn’t say much for the research angle of the company in question).

So, please, Klout, and anyone else that puts people onto their platform then makes it almost impossible to get off – be smart. Make it easy to leave. I was able to delete my Empire Avenue account with a single mouse click – why should it be any more difficult than that?

After all, it’s not like you’re just looking to have numbers to show off about your platform to possible investors. That wouldn’t be a reason to keep people on there that want to leave.


Update 26.10.2011: Seems the link to remove yourself from Klout is now showing an “invalid request”. You can try this one instead. 

Note: This post is about Klout and its practices. I have nothing but good words for its CEO Joe Fernandez, who’s always responded to criticism about the service and looked at ways to improve.

~ Update: As of November 1st 2011, you can now delete your Klout account

image: remuz

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