Lies, Damned Lies and Klout Lies

SoftwareHollis
Hollis Tibbetts Director for Software Strategy, Mergers & Acquisitions Group, Dell, Inc.

Posted on November 17th 2011

It seemed like good news when Klout announced that users could delete their own profiles.  For a company that has been known for double-speak, it seemed too good to be true.  Guess what – it was.

So, you think that your profile and Klout Score has been deleted.  Guess what, they haven’t been.  You just can’t see them.  They’ve been suppressed, but Klout is still busy amassing data on you and calculating your Klout Score, every single day.

Half-Truth or Big Lie?

How in the world would I know that?  A day or two after Klout announced the ability to delete profiles and scores, I deleted mine. 

Then yesterday (about a week later), I went back to Klout.com and signed back up using my Twitter handle only.  Guess what? I was greeted by a graph that showed my score – changing every day, including during those days when I supposedly didn’t have a K-score or a K-profile.  In the attached graphic, you can see how my K-score changes every day - including the days where i supposedly didn't have a score at all.

My Daily Klout

I then “attached” my LinkedIn, Facebook, WordPress and Youtube accounts.  I was curious to see what impact adding them would have.  

The next day when my K-score was recalculated – guess what?  Almost no change at all.  The only logical conclusion is that Klout kept all my profile information and account linkages.  Otherwise, when I added all the other accounts, my score SHOULD have changed.  The very last day in the attached graphic should have shown a change.

So the profiles and account information are simply suppressed.  Why would Klout do that?  Klout makes its money by amassing information on people and selling that to “sponsors”.  By secretly gathering and maintaining information on people, they are creating an asset that they can monetize. 

Adult Supervision Definitely Required

This issue I have with this is the complete lack of honesty and transparency coming from Klout.  At almost every juncture, Klout chooses obfuscation and dishonesty, rather than transparency and good citizenship. A constant stream of PR-speak, half-truths and misdirection.

For a corporation that openly aspires to impact everyone’s economic and even social lives, such lack of ethics is truly troubling.  Without a question, Klout is a company that needs external oversight and auditing.




 

SoftwareHollis

Hollis Tibbetts

Director for Software Strategy, Mergers & Acquisitions Group, Dell, Inc.

Hollis has established himself as a successful software marketing and technology expert. His various strategy, marketing and technology blogs are read over 50,000 times a month. He has over 20 years experience in creating, executing and managing innovative and effective marketing programs for startup, midsize and large technology companies in Silicon Valley and Austin TX. He has substantial expertise and a highly successful track record in positioning and launching companies and products and achieving solid, sustained growth. Hollis has developed substantial expertise in middleware, SaaS, Cloud, data management and distributed application technologies, with over 2 decades of experience in marketing, technical, product management and product marketing roles at leading companies in such as Pervasive, Aruna (acquired by Progress Software), Sybase (now SAP), webMethods (now Software AG), M7 Corporation (acquired by BEA/Oracle), OnDisplay (acquired by Vignette) and KIVA Software (acquired by Netscape). He has established himself as an industry expert, having authored a large number of technology white papers, as well as published media articles and book contributions. Hollis is a regularly featured blogger at ebizQ, a venue focused on enterprise technologies, with over 100,000 subscribers (http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/integrationedge), writes extensively on Sys-con Media (http://hollistibbetts.sys-con.com) and maintains a blog focused on creating great software: Software Marketing 2011 (http://www.softwaremarketingexperts.com) He is also active on Twitter as @SoftwareHollis Additional information is available at HollisTibbetts.com
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Comments

The Write Connection
Posted on November 18th 2011 at 1:50PM

I agree with you Hollis.

Klout seem oblivious to the fact that they have been fundamentally dishonest with people on a number of issues. What I find strange, given the money that has been invested in Klout, is why someone involved at a senior level has not questioned how this dishonesty will reflect on the trustworthiness of the metric itself and taken appropriate action. They just seem oblivious to it to the damage it could permanently do the company’s reputation and the resulting loss of the investors’ money.

There are other ‘influence’ measuring companies that must be rubbing their hands at the own goals Klout continue to make and there dismissive attitude towards ordinary internet users. I am watching developments with great interests.

 

xperlink
Posted on November 24th 2011 at 5:08PM

Hi WC

Could you be more specific ?

You point out dishonnesty while JoeF explains quite clearly what is actually triggering the behaviour described in this post.

What are specifically the dishonnesty you see in Klout communications ?

From my perspective, Klout CEO and his colleagues have always been responding to critics and accepted them. They have alwyas been transparent. Or I missed the point ....

Thank you for clarifications.

Antoine

SoftwareHollis
Posted on November 18th 2011 at 2:03PM

Chas,

You hit on an important point that I hadn't considered - how Klout's "bad behavior" de-legitimizes everything that they do.

By "bad behavior" i mean the "communications strategy" of Klout (i.e. shady), operational activities (mass-harvesting of profiles including children) and even the way the Klout.com site operates (a bit like a Russian Porn site).

You'd think that Kleiner Perkins would do a better job on oversight.

Great insights, Chas.

 

Posted on November 18th 2011 at 5:22PM

Hi, my name is Joe Fernandez and I am the CEO here at Klout. 

I think you are way off here and I want to address your concerns one by one.

- I deleted klout, but when i re-registered i still had a history. Klout must be keeping my data.
For some networks, like Twitter, we don't need full access for 30-days to generate a history. Just because you have a 30-day history when you re-opt-back in doesn't mean we were accessing your data at that time. Through Twitter search we can backfill historic data instantly on re-authorization.
- I added more networks and my score didn't change. Klout is keeping all my data!
Actually, the only networks that currently affect your Klout score are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare. All other networks are being analyzed to be added to the model as soon as possible. This is why your score did not change.
- Klout is dishonest, trying to hide something
When a user removes their account, we revoke their network tokens (so we couldn't access their info even if we wanted to). We explicitly state on the final opt-out screen that users can also revoke klout's app privileges from the networks on their end as well, which is an absolute way to ensure klout can't access your data.  Users have full control of this process -- we can't access their private data unless they've explicitely given it to us. Users can always take back that permission.
Finally, we also state on the final screen of removing your account that it'll take 24-48 hours to remove from the website (which we did), and up to 7 days to remove from API and our data. You say you deleted your account a week ago, so depending on exactly when deleted it might not even fall into our explicitely stated time range for removal.

 

 

 

Posted on November 18th 2011 at 8:18PM

Klout needs to stop the dubious practices now, and be more ethical.

Stop encouraging people to spam their friends to sign up.

Make it opt-in to start with.

Address the legal concersn about privacy in the U.K. and the EU and probably many more countries, and stop hiding behind "Don't be online" rhetoric.

mlazen
Posted on November 21st 2011 at 1:16AM

Good response, Joe--thanks for coming on.

Posted on November 18th 2011 at 7:49PM

Honestly?  Seems a pretty irresponsible article.  None of the things claimed, that I can see, were proven in any way, shape, or form.

Posted on November 19th 2011 at 12:29AM

I find it interesting that Mr. Fernandez addressed the "opt-out" aspect of this arguement while never dealing with the reasons people have demanded to opt-out. I had Tennis as a topic I was influential about for at least three months. I don't follow tennis, I don't tweet about tennis, and being disabled I don't play tennis. This was a bit insulting, but I dealt with it. Then my topics completely disappeared. When I inquired as to why, Ms. Berry, the point girl said that Klout assesses topics weekly. If that was the case why was Tennis a topic for three months?If they had not taken themselves so seriously the cherade could have gone on, we would still be +K'ing everybody and such. Now I notice that Klout has a score of about 88? They don't follow anyone, they don't belong to other networks, and as far as influence... 

Posted on November 19th 2011 at 12:40AM

Here's an alternative suggestion:

The data doesn't exist...at least not as represented by Klout! In fact, I know some of their data is inaccurate because I have been tracking several of the criteria Klout says they base their scores on. Say it ain't so, Joe!

I have had issues with Klout's data and data reporting for well over a year. There seems to be no end to their obfuscation and doublespeak! I've covered Klout's data and reporting for over a year as well. The lack of transparency is only one area of concern. The fact that they've adjusted their algorithm in such a manner suggests one of several scenarios...none of them speak highly for Klout's ability to prsent an accurate picture of social media influence. They were either dead wrong and way off before or they are way off now. They can't have it both ways!

The fact that animals, inanimate objects, and certain celebrity pages with absolutely zero interaction and/or RT history rank higher than individuals with loyal followers who routinely interact? Well, it's nothing short of ridiculous. Yet it happens every day on Klout.

I have been assigned topics I have never tweeted about. I have been assigned influencers I have never interacted with. I have been assigned my subscores based on little approaching reason or history...the data appears to be utter fiction. Well you gotta love the good ole' USA! Anything is possible....

Isra Garcia
Posted on November 20th 2011 at 10:27PM

Not keen at all with Klout practices. 

The Write Connection
Posted on November 20th 2011 at 11:28PM

Hi Joe

Firstly, kudos to you for coming on here and answering directly, I am sure you are very busy and you responding personally does you credit and deals, to some extent, with the issues I raised in my earlier post on this thread.

Secondly and briefly now that we have your attention, can you please shed some light on why Klout chose to backdate everyone's score when you introduced the new algorithm? I cover this in more detail here. Surely it would have been better to let people see scores pre and post algorithm change rather than rewrite everyone's history? For me this is the key to why people feel they have been treated dishonestly.

Your response to this question would be very much appreciated.

Thanks

Chas