​Goodbye, Klout: Social media measuring power quietly disappears

Klout, which made headlines by measuring your social media influence, will close its doors on May 25.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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Remember sweating over your Klout score? Seven years ago, Klout arrived, and suddenly, there was a way to measure your social media influence across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and more with a simple score.

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In 2011 and 2012, we were obsessed with Klout. If you had a high Klout score -- 77 here at its high, which was nothing to sneeze at -- life was great. If it was low, you felt blue, and you tried hard to get your score back up.

When Klout hiccuped and dropped everyone's social influence score to 1, slightly below the neighborhood cat, millions of Klout users were upset.

Why? Well, part of it is that gamification does lure people. Another reason is that, for a while, Klout scores did matter. I, for example, used to get assignments because I had a high Klout score. I wasn't the only one.

Times change. Klout fell out of fashion. Social media influence still matters, but fewer and fewer people were looking to Klout to measure it.

Even by 2014, when Lithium Technologies bought Klout for a reported $200-million stock deal, people couldn't see the value in the deal.

Now, Peter Hess, Lithium CEO, wrote to the remaining Klout users: "I'm writing to let you know that Lithium has made the decision to sunset the Klout service, effective May 25, 2018."

Hess' stated reason: "The Klout acquisition provided Lithium with valuable artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities but Klout as a standalone service is not aligned with our long-term strategy."

That may well be, but it's also worth noting that May 25 is also the day the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, takes effect.

Under the GDPR, organisations must ensure that personal data is gathered legally and under strict conditions and that data is protected from misuse and exploitation. Most companies aren't close to complying with GDPR.

Given that Klout had little to do with Lithium's messaging and social media and marketing services, plus the cost of complying with GDPR, the only real surprise here is that it took so long for Lithium to shut down Klout.

Goodbye, Klout. It was nice to know you. But, given our current worries about social media security and privacy, I doubt we'll see your like again.

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