You probably haven’t experienced the crippling anxiety of thinking about increasing your Klout score in quite some time. As of May 25, you won’t have ever have to do it again.
On Thursday, the social ranking company announced to its 708,000 Twitter followers (meh) that it will be shutting down.
Klout was founded in 2008 as a way for social media users to gauge their “influence.” Through some algorithmic voodoo the service would snoop through your social media presence and spit out your “Klout Score”—a number between 1 and 100 that determined how much you are worth as a social human being. These days, a Klout Score is about as valuable as a blue check mark, and the service’s parent company has decided to “sunset” Klout’s website and scoring system.
Klout’s parent company, Lithium Technologies, posted a statement about the decision on its blog this afternoon. It reads in part:
Lithium is committed to providing you with the technology and services that will enable you to differentiate your customer experience. Our recent launch of Lithium Messaging is evidence of our focus on this mission. The Klout acquisition provided Lithium with valuable artificial intelligence (AI) and machinelearning capabilities but Klout as a standalone service is not aligned with our long-term strategy.
At its peak, Klout was seen as a foreboding sign of things to come. It boiled the entirety of your online social interactions down to numerical certainty that needed to be improved or maintained. Critics labeled it “socially evil,” and at least one study found that its measurement of influence was essentially bullshit. But in 2011, it reportedly had around 100 million users and people were scrambling to post more online out of fear that a good Klout score would be essential for landing a job in the near future.
Lithium bought Klout in a private sale back in 2014. At the time, the purchase was valued at $200 million, but the actual sale price hasn’t been made public. Logging in today shows that the site has become some sort of weird version of LinkedIn with lots of news articles on the homepage and rankings of your “expertise.” Clicking on the “Measure” tab reveals that I’m a 99.9 percent expert in “Gizmodo.” So, as you can see, those AI capabilities are indeed quite impressive.
We asked Lithium what it plans to do with the data it’s collected over the years and we’ll update this post when we receive a reply.
The basic idea of Klout may not be completely dead. Lithium’s CEO claims that the company is planning to launch “a new social impact scoring methodology based on Twitter” sometime in the future. No matter what, the legacy of Klout lives on in the Influencer hellscape we wade through every day.