Thursday, May 10, 2018

No More Klout

Chances are good that if you have heard of Klout, you thought it closed down long ago. Chances are also good that if you had a Klout account you either deleted it or simply stopped going there. This might come as a surprise to many of you, but Klout is still up and running, at least for now. It has been announced that Klout is going to close on May 25 2018.

For those of you who might never have heard of Klout, Klout is a website that measures the influence of users across several social media platforms. This is done primarily through the Klout score, a numerical value from 1 to 100. To arrive at the Klout score Klout relies upon one's activities across such social media sites as Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. For a time Klout offered free services or products, known as Perks, to its users. Essentially, companies would pay Klout to do so. There can be little doubt that this was the primary reason many people had Klout accounts.

Klout was founded in 2009 by Joe Fernandez. For a time at least, Klout was doing very well. By 2011 it had around 100 million users. Klout was regularly mentioned in the news. There were those who thought that one's Klout score could eventually be key to landing a job. That is not to say that Klout did not have more than its share of critics. As hard as it might be to believe given recent revelations about Facebook, there were privacy concerns about Klout. Science fiction author John Scalzi called it "socially evil." While many were not as severe in their criticism of Klout as Mr. Scalzi was, they at least expressed doubts that one's influence on social media could be reduced to a numerical score. Even many of Klout's users regarded it as not being a very accurate measure of one's influence on social media at all.

Over time the buzz about Klout would fade. Over time Klout would also change. It made changes to its algorithm, including one in August 2012 that caused an uproar among its users. In February 2014 Klout moved into the arena of recommending content for individuals to share on their various social media platforms. It was not very long afterwards that Klout was acquired by Lithium Technologies. for $100 million. It was in the autumn of 2015 that Klout stopped awarding Perks. I have to wonder if this was not the nail in the coffin for Klout. I suspect many users had already deserted Klout by that time. A good number of those who remained probably did so because of the Perks. With no more Perks, they had little reason to maintain their Klout accounts, or at least to check them regularly.

That having been said, Klout was probably in decline by the time they decided to do away with Perks. The very title of the article "The 4 Types of People Who Still Use Klout" from the The Daily Dot from April 2015 shows that Klout was not what it had once been. Indeed, a quote from the article shows just how far it had fallen in a scant four years, "Klout is still around, but you're forgiven if you've forgotten it.'

Curiously, it would appear that the fact that Klout's precipitous decline in popularity is not the reason Lithium Technologies is closing it down. It would appear that the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) due to go into effect later this month played a role. A spokesman from Lithium told TechCrunch, "...the upcoming deadline for GDPR implementation simply expedited our plans to sunset Klout." While there are those of us who never particularly worried about privacy, it would seem in the end concerns over privacy are what killed Klout in part.

For all the controversy that Klout caused, in the end it would seem that Klout was little more than a passing fad. In the end it would seem that it was no different than Hot or Not, Candy Crush, or Gangam Style. It may have caused more of a stir and it may have been popular for a little bit longer, but in the end Klout would appear to have been little more than a craze that came and went.

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