New York Times Takes Klout to Task

klout 300x164 New York Times Takes Klout to TaskGuys, Klout was making profiles for minors, and The New York Times is ON IT. “In the days just before Halloween, Ms. McGary got the fright of her life when she checked her Klout profile,” the Times says. “Hovering above her score were the faces and names of those over whom she had influence, as calculated by Klout. They included her 13-year-old son, Matthew.” Accompanied by a melodramatic photo of a mother gazing anxiously out the window, as if waiting for Klout agents to come for her son.

As far as technology scaremongering goes, this story is pretty egregious. First, the lead: “Can an online algorithm track down your child?” both exaggerates the danger of an automatically-generated Klout score and creates the false impression that an algorithm that tracks users on the web, some of whom are minors, is a new or unusual thing when in fact web browsing habits are tracked by an innumerable number of advertisers, market researchers and spammy directories.

The minor profiles cited in the story were created by crawling users’ Facebook friends, a feature Klout no longer employs. Klout has also started allowing users to delete their profiles. So while Klout still remains spammy at its core, this article, which feels like it was written by a 90-year-old intern, falls short in its indictment–and the writer¬†doesn’t even mention the¬†#OccupyKlout movement.