Friendster. Orkut. Bebo. MySpace. The road to building successful social media empires is paved with platforms and services that had their brief moment in the sun before fading into obscurity. You can officially add Klout to that list as the social media analytics platform announced Thursday that it would be shuttering operations.
To all of our fans: after careful consideration we have decided to shut down the Klout website & the Klout Score. This will happen on May 25, 2018. It has been a pleasure serving you, and thank you for your ongoing support over the years. Details here: https://t.co/xCNdYachxF
— Klout (@klout) May 10, 2018
Chances are, here in the year 2018, you had one of two reactions to the news that also justified why parent company Lithium is shutting Klout down.
- “Oh yeah, I totally forgot about Klout.”
- “What is Klout?”
Around the time that it launched in 2011, Klout promised to showcase a person’s online social influence in the form of a Klout Score. Ranging between 1 and 100, the higher your Klout Score, the more you were seen as an “expert” or “influencer” on a certain topic or topics. In order to do that, Klout would mine user data from social media platforms such as Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as well as sites such as YouTube, Wikipedia, and Bing. In theory, one could leverage their high Klout Score to garner attention and field offers for their expertise. Klout users were also offered “perks” in the form of free services or products that matched your interests or location.
In reality, the appeal of a Klout Score faded relatively quickly when users came to realize it didn’t actually hold much value. Criticisms of the platform said that it actually devalued authentic online communication and instead promoted an atmosphere of social ranking and stratification that relied on quantifying human interaction into a number. Plus, the algorithms that Klout used to determine scores was nebulous and never really shared publicly.
For anyone who has ever seen the Black Mirror episode Nosedive, about a society where everyone scored one another based on social interactions, you might think of Klout as the first step towards a potential world like that.
And so, while we’re quick to assume social media users are vapid and vain, they apparently weren’t vapid and vain enough to buy into what Klout was selling. Still, the company was purchased by Lithium Technologies in 2014 for $200 million. While they say they still got their money’s worth out of the technology and data that came with Klout, they decided that the actual service was no longer of any value. In fact, Thursday is almost certainly going to be the busiest day Klout has had in years given how many people will log in to find out how their Klout Score shook out in the end.