Klout, Controversial Influence-Quantifier, Revamps Its Scores

Joe Fernandez, left, of Klout, at his company's office in 795 Folsom, the building where Twitter has its headquarters, in San Francisco Photograph by Jim Wilson/The New York Times via Redux

Few Silicon Valley start-ups have provoked such an acrid response as Klout, a Kleiner, Perkins-backed startup that measures people’s online influence. Klout mines information about individuals, such as the number of followers and friends they have on Twitter and Facebook, and then sells the resulting scores to customers like airlines and banks. Those companies then offer secret rewards or more responsive customer service to the loudest online voices. If you view this as the onset as a new kind of pernicious bias in our society, you’re not alone. According to Klout’s Wikipedia page, the service has been called “socially evil,” compared with herpes, and castigated for doing a lousy job of “trying to measure this monstrosity called social media.”

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