Klout faces criticism for harvesting Facebook data

When Sites Drag the Unwitting Across the Web

In some cases, yes — and if you’re a parent, it could alarm you too.

Consider the case of Maggie Leifer McGary, mother, blogger and social media fan. Ms. McGary is on virtually every existing social network: Foursquare, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. She is also on Klout, a popular site that assigns you a score based on its analysis of how influential you are on the social Web.

In the days just before Halloween, Ms. McGary got the fright of her life when she checked her Klout profile. Hovering above her score were the faces and names of those over whom she had influence, as calculated by Klout. They included her 13-year-old son, Matthew.

The boy had never set up a Klout page for himself; he was only her Facebook “friend,” so she could monitor his interactions there. Klout had automatically created a page for him and assigned him a score. Then Ms. McGary’s 15-year-old daughter Mimi popped up on her Klout page — this time not with a Klout score of her own, just a nudge to Ms. McGary to invite Mimi to join.

Read More