Klout is out and there’s nary a pout. Lithium Technologies, which purchased Klout in 2014 for reportedly $200 million, has announced it’s going to shut down the site by May 25th.
May 25th is, coincidentally, also the deadline for companies to comply with the new European data privacy rules. And although it’s not explicitly stated, GDPR might have played a role in Klout’s downfall. “Klout as a standalone service is not aligned with our long-term strategy,” Lithium’s CEO Peter Hess wrote in a blog post.
When it launched, the controversial social reputation service allowed users to link their social media accounts to figure out what topics they’re an expert on based on posts they’ve shared and friends they were connected to. Once Klout analyzed your internet presence, it would give you an influential score. Public figures like President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber, for example, were given a perfect score of 100, while others complained that their scores didn’t reflect their true expertise. Klout also began partnering with brands to offer deals, discounts, and product samples to users who maintained a score above a certain threshold; the Perks feature shut down in 2015.
While the concept has died off in the US due to personal data privacy concerns and the whimsies of a passing fad, it’s lived on in China, where the government is piloting a social credit system that would determine people’s eligibility to board planes and trains depending on their social score. It’s not quite the same thing as Klout, but both scoring systems sound awfully similar to episodes of Black Mirror.
You still have a few weeks to check your influential scores, but after even Klout dies, it may not be the last time we hear from Lithium. Hess’ blog post indicates that Klout may take a second life as a tool inside of some Lithium services. He writes, “We are also planning the launch of a new social impact scoring methodology based on Twitter.” That sounds... foreboding.