Klout's Opt-out Policy: Is It Fair?

You probably know your Klout score, and we bet you've compared your score to someone else's by typing in their Twitter handle on Klout's site. That's possible because tweets are public, and Klout builds profiles -- without explicit permission -- on public data.

As the Klout FAQ explains, "Klout collects public data in order to accurately measure influence. Users can control the data available to Klout by changing the privacy settings on individual networks. Klout will never access your private data unless we have explicit permission."

Even people with locked tweets have Klout scores and profiles. All the locked accounts we checked have the basic Klout score of 10, regardless of how many followers they have. This includes porn star Jenna Haze  [ @jenxstudios, 114K followers ] who is influential about music, photography and movies [ not sex? hmmm. ]

But Canada-based marketing expert and social media blogger Danny Brown argues in a recent post that Klout sucks because you have to opt out of their system rather than opt-in.

"No permission -- there you are, as bright as day online, with whatever score they deem you fit to have based on their perception of you," Danny writes.

He then notes, "I understand that by accepting the Terms of Service on the likes of Twitter, etc, your information can be shared. I’m not sold on that being turned into a full-on profile on another site, though."

Danny has also had trouble deleting his Klout account -- a process that requires emailing contact@klout.com to have it removed manually.

"I followed the instructions on their site to delete my account, and received an email from Lan at their contact centre advising my account had been removed. This was almost a week ago, and I was advised it could take a day to clear their system," he writes.

"A week later, and I’m still there, even though I have no desire to be part of the Klout game anymore, nor do I wish to be “on display” on their site, since I (initially) never gave permission."

We found Danny's profile remains on Klout and includes a note for us to invite him [shown above].

This is not the first time this type of opt-out issue has been raised. In March 2009, 37 Signals complained on its blog that customer-service site Get Satisfaction hosted a customer-support page for it without permission, going so far as to include the 37 Signals logo and making the page look official. Get Satisfaction still hosts a 37 Signals page, but it no longer includes the logo and is labeled "unofficial."

What do you think: Should a new service be able to profile public activity without people opting in? And should Klout be forced to allow folks to opt out of a rating? Tell us in the comments.

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