Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why I Don't (Totally) Blame Klout for Privacy Issues

A few weeks ago a friend noticed, when she logged into Klout, that her son was listed as one of the people she influences. She figured it was because her son had recently commented on one of her Facebook posts since her posts are set to public. Curious, I went over to Klout to see who they were listing as people I influence and, lo and behold, there was my son. My 13 year-old son. I clicked on the thumbnail and up popped a Klout profile for him, complete with a score of 26.

I have erased his last name in the interest of privacy (it's not McGary, btw, potential stalkers) but there you have it, what Klout claims they never did: create profiles for unregistered Facebook users. That is exactly what this was--a profile for an unregistered Facebook user, complete with a link to his Facebook profile. Which a friend who I had check it was able to access--I'm guessing because his privacy on Facebook is set to "friends of friends."

Presumably as a result of bloggers bringing the privacy/creating profiles for Facebook users issue to Klout's attention, his profile was short-lived; the following day, Klout updated it's privacy features and, while the thumbnail of his photo--still with a score of 26--remained on my profile as a person I influence, when I clicked on it, instead of opening a profile, it just linked to an "invite your Facebook friends to Klout" app in Facebook. Since then Klout has further clarified the Facebook/Twitter profile thing by adding an "invite friends" tab with separate links to "Twitter friends" and "Facebook friends."

Now don't get me wrong--I still think Klout is BS. Especially with the recent shitstorm when Klout changed its algorithm and scores across the board plummeted. But do I think they meant to exploit minors by creating profiles for them? No. To be honest, if I were to blame anyone, I'd have to blame myself. Facebook's TOS say users have to be 14 to create a profile--so why is my son--a 13 year-old, even on Facebook? Because I let him. And because he, as millions of other kids do on Facebook, doesn't use his real age. So shoot me--I let my kids watch rated R movies and I let my 13 year-old be on Facebook. Do I think it's right that Klout was creating profiles for unregistered Facebook users? No. But were they specifically targeting minors? I would hope not.

I will say, however, that I think they need to revisit their privacy policy towards children--I don't really get the disparity between "this site is not directed at persons under 18" and "We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under 13." How about not knowingly collecting information for anyone under 18 since the site is not directed at persons under 18?

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