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This article was published on November 14, 2011

Klout’s CEO issues an apology for creating profiles of minors

Klout’s CEO issues an apology for creating profiles of minors

Whether you like or loathe the ideas of social influence and its measurement, you’re likely familiar with the major players in the space — Klout, PeerIndex and the upcoming Kred product from PeopleBrowsr. The idea is that as you interact with people via different social media platforms, they are influenced by you. That influence, if these companies have their way, will be measured.

A lot has been said about whether the practice of “influence measurement” is inherently good or bad, but a recent misstep by Klout has brought a potentially infringing factor to light – Klout has been creating profiles for people who interacted with registered Klout users on Facebook. The problem? There was no verification of age being done.

In a blog post today, Klout’s CEO Joe Fernandez takes a big bite of crow:

“We will always be vigilant in working with the platforms (Twitter/Facebook/etc), our legal counsel, and the community to do what’s right here. We messed up on this one and are deeply sorry.”

The obvious problem here is deciding where the onus of privacy falls. Klout correctly asserts that what it did was not against Facebook’s policy, because it accessed only accounts that were public. But in doing so, and in creating the profiles for minors, it also violated the personal and legal standards of privacy that so many people hold dear.

The question then remains – Should Klout continue to make these sorts of connections, or should they be abandoned completely unless age verification can happen? Or perhaps choice number 3, as Klout suggests:

“If you are creating public data but do not want it measured by Klout you can opt-out by going to the privacy page.”

At any rate, Klout’s recent change to its scoring metric has had many people up in arms. A misstep of this magnitude couldn’t have come at a worse time.

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