Klout Score

Klout – Can an online algorithm track down your child? Unintended consequences of her very active social network life. The Realtime Report tracks social media trends. Klout used by marketers to reach habitual comment makers who are likely to promote their products on social networks. Klout lifts information from 13 separate networks. All your activity on a social network to a great extent exposes everyone you are connected to.

Klout-When Sites Drag the Unwitting Across the Web November 13, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/technology/klouts-automatically-created-profiles-included-minors.html?hpw=&pagewanted=print
Can an online algorithm track down your child?
Maggie Leifer McGary, mother, blogger and social media fan. Ms. McGary is on virtually every existing social network: Foursquare, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. She is also on Klout, a popular site that assigns you a score based on its analysis of how influential you are on the social Web.
Ms. McGary got the fright of her life when she checked her Klout profile. Hovering above her score were the faces and names of those over whom she had influence, as calculated by Klout. They included her 13-year-old son, Matthew. The boy had never set up a Klout page for himself; he was only her Facebook “friend,” so she could monitor his interactions there. Klout had automatically created a page for him and assigned him a score. Then Ms. McGary’s 15-year-old daughter Mimi popped up on her Klout page — this time not with a Klout score of her own, just a nudge to Ms. McGary to invite Mimi to join.
“It’s wrong. They shouldn’t be marketing to children.”
Klout says it does not. And since this brouhaha, Klout no longer creates profiles automatically, of minors or anyone else, and every Klout user can now delete a profile entirely.
Klout culls information about individuals from publicly available sources. It lifts information from 13 separate networks in all, its chief executive, Joe Fernandez, explained, and rates you based on how “people engage with the content you create.”
For a brief period in late October, when Ms. McGary saw Matthew pop up on her Klout page, Klout’s algorithms created scores for the Facebook friends of registered Klout users. “Let’s say you and I were friends on Facebook, and I had commented on your Facebook wall,” Mr. Fernandez said. “Klout would see that, and I would get a score from my post on your wall.”
Outcry followed. Klout turned off that feature. Mr. Fernandez said his algorithms were not so smart that they could figure out who among your network of friends was a child or an adult.
Ms. McGary’s realization was part of a storm that blew through the blogosphere. It started when a few people started to see their Klout scores rise and fall and — what else? — began posting on Twitter about it.
“How did Klout get the information to create a profile on my son???” Ms. Ries wrote that day on her site, The Realtime Report, which, as luck would have it, tracks social media trends. Ms. Ries told her readers: “I have unlinked my Facebook account, and I suggest you do the same.”
Facebook said it was investigating whether Klout had broken its terms of service in harvesting information from its site. Klout says it did not. Much of a Facebook user’s personal information — name, sex, profile photo — is public information, and so too are pictures, comments and other posts that are marked as publicly visible, with a stark globe icon.
Klout, like a host of other influence yardsticks in the digital marketplace, like PeerIndex and Kred, is used by marketers to reach habitual comment makers who are likely to promote their products on social networks. It can be used by employers, teachers, homecoming queen committees — anyone — to gauge someone’s popularity.
Ms. Ries’s Klout score went up sharply after she wrote a blog post about her experience and posted a link to it on Twitter. It also prompted her to reflect on the unintended consequences of her very active social network life.
“I engage, I participate publicly. I view anything I post as fair game,” she said the other day on the phone. “The big lesson I learned, and the new area I started thinking about much more heavily, is that my activity on a social network to a great extent exposes everyone I am connected to.”
“People need to be aware — if you’re active on social networks, you’re bringing your social graph with you, and that includes your friends and family,” she said.

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