Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Over and Klout

#bradfordphotoaday Day 20 - 'Water'

There’s a blog post over at Wired called What Your Klout Score Really Means. It’s well worth a read, and gives an insight into how companies have increasingly been using Klout to target special offers at influential people. A resort in Las Vegas upgraded guests’ rooms if they had a high Klout score. A graphic designer with a score of 74 gained a free Windows Phone and an invite to a VH1 award show.

There’s even a cited example of a marketing company, which, whilst interviewing for a vice president post, asked the candidate what his Klout score was; he didn’t know, and the interview was cut short when the interviewee was shown his score – a low 34 out of a possible 100.

My score is lower than that. So low, that it doesn’t exist. Back in November, I opted-out of Klout. I became very unnerved about all the data I was volunteering to it, and the information about my Facebook friends that I was giving it access to – even those with private profiles. It also wasn’t terribly accurate, as it thought I was influential about Spongebob Squarepants and Baghdad – two subjects that I con honestly say I know very little about. I’ve never even watched an episode of Spongebob.

So the revelation that at least one company is using Klout as a metric to judge potential hires by is worrying. Not at least from the point of view of people like me who would be at a disadvantage, but also that some companies are happy to trust a third party and its mystical closed algorithm that isn’t open for public scrutiny. Of course, Klout is a business that wants to make money – being transparent about how to get a perfect Klout score would result in widespread abuse thus making it completely meaningless.But even without widespread gaming of the system, do Klout scores actually mean anything? The Wired article notes that the only person to have a perfect 100 score is Justin Bieber – presumably by virtue of the huge number of followers he has on Twitter who are happy to retweet his tweets. Even the US president, Barack Obama, can only manage 91, although that’s still a high score. And while gaming of the system isn’t widespread, it’s still possible to get high scores by cheating a bit – @Betelgeuse_3 has a score of 53 by virtue of having over 4500 followers, but also because it’s a bot that tweets ‘IT’S SHOWTIME!’ at anyone who types ‘beetlejuice’ three times in the same tweet. That’s more than the official Twitter account for the TV series Red Dwarf which only has a score of 49 despite having over 12,000 followers, and, you know, being the official Twitter account for the TV series Red Dwarf. Which would you say was more influential? And would you base a major business decision on a third party service that thinks that a Twitter bot is more influential than a world-renowned cult TV show?

Of course, would you really want to work for a company that hired people solely because Klout tells them that they’re important? Maintaining a high Klout score essentially requires you to tweet a lot – participating in lots of conversations with other Twitter users in particular – and have lots of followers. I wouldn’t want to feel like I had to keep tweeting drivel and constantly try to get more people to read it just so that some faceless company can grade me. I’d probably lose more followers that way.

I’ll leave the final word to Tom Scott (whom I actually met in person recently, he’s awesome) and his site Klouchebag.

Comments are closed.