Klout is shutting down.

This likely isn’t surprising to anyone. More likely the response is “Klout was even still around?”, as it’s relevance was very short-lived in the beginning of the ‘influencer’ marketing trend.

Klout never lived up to its main, and singular, claim of tracking your social importance. Because of this nearly laughable claim, it started as (and remained) the butt of many tech jokes. But, don’t let that fool you into thinking it was a useless platform. Where it lacked in it’s grandiose claims, it made up for in simple functionality: Klout provided a wonderfully simple number. It’s measurement, in aggregate, of your social activity and the activity of others who engaged with your posts was genius in its simplicity. I, in fact, still use it to this day as a way to monitor my social heart-beat. To see if I was moving the needle in the right direction. The larger my number grew (currently 54, at one point I topped 62) indicated the more people were engaging with my posts across platforms, showing me a simple metric that helped me feel the pulse of my social business efforts. Now that I’ve move out of social business and more deeply into content strategy, I still find I use the Klout plugin to twitter to indicate other people’s overall engagement at a quick glance, without having to scroll through their timeline to determine how active they may be.

Of course, this highlights one of the potentially huge issue in the platform and a probable reason for the announcement of their impending shutdown on May 25th. The timing of this shut-down is exceedingly coincidental with the GDPR privacy law going into effect on the same day. It seems to me Lithium (the parent company) couldn’t figure out a way to make Klout GDPR compliant without a ton of code-slinging (read expensive development time and redesign) and just easier to shut it down as non-monetized platform. I can’t imagine the tool was generating any level of revenue, but likely also not a huge cost center either as development seemed all but stalled. Data portability and cleansing have been big topics recently in light of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, so I presume took this in concert with the GDPR regulations as the writing on the wall and to make a quick and cheap exit before they soon became the target for the next user-data breach.

This also leaves us with some questions about removal of personal data from their servers for current users who haven’t “opted out”, as well as for those of us who have recently shutdown our accounts based on this news and only recently opted out. While their privacy statements are clear about not analyzing “private” posts on social networks, it makes no indication of how a user can scrub their profile data from the system. Thus far I’ve found no indication from Lithium as to what a user’s options may be.

Still… so long, Klout, we hardly knew ye.