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Roach Motels, "Privacy Third Rail," Bad Decisions & Klout

Klout.com - Time to Clean Up Your Act

I used to think that Privacy mattered - that it was a big deal.

I've come to the conclusion that privacy is a very complex, multi-dimensional thing.  People willingly give up their privacy all the time.  Privacy is increasingly "not a big deal".

Evolution of "Privacy"
As people go on-line more and more, there's an evolution in how people view their privacy.

People willingly give up their current location on FourSquare, their opinions on Twitter, their friends on Facebook their business background on LinkedIn.

People are ok with giving up astonishing amounts of their privacy.

The "Third Rail of Privacy"
People are willing to share more and more information about themselves - in essence "trading" it for some sort of value received (which may or may not be tangible) - so long as they're not surprised by what comes out of it.

What people really hate is being surprised.

People want to be able to make informed decisions.  Giving up privacy is ok.  Having privacy TAKEN AWAY from without agreement or even knowledge is an odious abomination.

So it's not about privacy.  It's about control over privacy. Klout denies us control over our own information.

For more detail - read my article on Web 2.0 Journal "Klout.com: When Messing with People’s Lives, You’d Better Be Transparent"

Privacy, Klout and Bad Business Decisions
Taking people's privacy away from them without their consent is also a BAD BUSINESS DECISION.  Sure, a company might benefit in the very short run, but they will pay the piper for such a decision, and pipers are very expensive.

One of the latest abominations to pop up in social media is Klout.com.

Klout creates a social media equivalent of a "FICO Score" for almost everyone out there who uses Facebook or Twitter.  They've scored 100+ million people - more every day.  You get a score whether you want one or not.

Their CEO @JoeFernandez has a vision that someday, when you check into a hotel, you'll get upgraded (or not) depending on your Klout Score.  Your resume will be electronically evaluated and possibly discarded automatically based on your K-Score.  Check out his various investor presentations and the various interviews he's done.

And I can't say I have a major problem with all that. Not crazy about it, but in this increasingly connected world, such a system is bound to evolve.  So I might as well embrace it.  I'll probably benefit, as I network a lot.  But that means I have a truly vested interest in what companies like Klout do, and how they do it.

Privacy and "Roach Motel" Business Models
What I have a problem with is the "Roach Motel" model of Klout - you know the "you can check in but you can never check out" sites.

It is a bastion of social media sinfulness that is guaranteed to offend stakeholders.

That's a remarkably stupid move, considering that the people they offend the most, are the people who do things like "write articles for a living that reach thousands of people".

For example, even two days after publication, Friday afternoon article is on the first page of Google News for "Klout.com" and listed as "highly cited". @DaveMalby is a Radio Show Host with 127,000 Twitter Followers. The average Klout Score is around 50 for people saying bad things about Klout on #OccupyKlout .

I'm tempted to write an article listing all the sins - or at least a "top ten" list, just so Klout leadership can see themselves in a mirror and maybe actually DO something about it.klout klout.com

Responsibility, Accountability and Regulation
To date, their track record is one of denying responsibility, and accountability.  They aspire to impact people's social and financial lives yet they run away from the responsibility of that power.

I've had several people ask me: FICO (Fair Isaac) and the credit reporting agencies like Experian are subject to substantial regulation because of the impact they have on people's financial lives.

Klout.com aims to have a much bigger impact - shouldn't they be regulated as well?  I'm not a fan of more regulation; however, if companies like Klout can't regulate themselves, then the government should step in.

Klout - time to clean up your act.

More Stories By Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis Tibbetts, or @SoftwareHollis as his 50,000+ followers know him on Twitter, is listed on various “top 100 expert lists” for a variety of topics – ranging from Cloud to Technology Marketing, Hollis is by day Evangelist & Software Technology Director at Dell Software. By night and weekends he is a commentator, speaker and all-round communicator about Software, Data and Cloud in their myriad aspects. You can also reach Hollis on LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/SoftwareHollis. His latest online venture is OnlineBackupNews - a free reference site to help organizations protect their data, applications and systems from threats. Every year IT Downtime Costs $26.5 Billion In Lost Revenue. Even with such high costs, 56% of enterprises in North America and 30% in Europe don’t have a good disaster recovery plan. Online Backup News aims to make sure you all have the news and tips needed to keep your IT Costs down and your information safe by providing best practices, technology insights, strategies, real-world examples and various tips and techniques from a variety of industry experts.

Hollis is a regularly featured blogger at ebizQ, a venue focused on enterprise technologies, with over 100,000 subscribers. He is also an author on Social Media Today "The World's Best Thinkers on Social Media", and maintains a blog focused on protecting data: Online Backup News.
He tweets actively as @SoftwareHollis

Additional information is available at HollisTibbetts.com

All opinions expressed in the author's articles are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.