There's an unpleasant social media company out there called Klout. It claims to measure your individual influence by analyzing your social networks on Twitter, Facebook, etc and then assigns a score of 1 – 100, your value as a social being. The basic metric itself is kind of interesting; what's problematic is all the product around it.

The positioning of Klout is gross, turning ordinary social interactions into some sort of game with a competitive score. Of course there are meaningless achievements. But what's most loathsome is the primary purpose of Klout is to offer "Perks" (aka "ads") to you based on your Klout score. Yes, I can get a free sample of Axe Hold and Touch hair gel because I'm such a bro on the Internets! Even worse, you have otherwise-sensible people seriously suggesting we use Klout to decide if people's comments have value. It's like a high school popularity contest for the Internet. Yuck.

As with most social media you and I aren't the customers of Klout, we are the product. Only with Klout you can't opt out of being packaged and sold. There's a Klout page for me with my name, my Twitter icon, a score, details about my social network. Klout refuses to remove it despite my persistent requests, because "your Tweets are publicly visible on your profile page". Which is true (and an important principle I agree with) but ignores the sheer ugliness of creating scores and profiles for people who do not want them. I'm not the only one offended by this.

Update: apparently having clout on Hacker News counts for something; after this blog post got some exposure Klout revived my month-old support request and completely removed their page about me. Which is nice for me, but meaningless unless they've changed their policy for everyone.

Update Nov 4: Klout has added an opt out.
Comments welcome via email or on Google+
  2011-11-04 15:13 Z