Bot spanking for social network ranking

Blabber tracker exposed as load of old Klout


Social media types who enjoy measuring their "popularity" in the social media arena are in for a shock.

Their Klout score could be wrong. Instead of a gold standard measure of how much influence they have on their peers, it could just be a measure of how noisy and attention-seeking they are...

A Twitter test by an SEO expert shows that it is possible to "game" Klout – the Twitter app that lets you measure your influence on social media by giving you a score out of 100. search and social marketing specialist Yousaf Sekander found that it is possible for a spam bot to be ranked as very influential by using particular tricks.

Klout has always been something for the narcissists, but it is now being taken increasingly seriously: Audi used it to offer people competition access, and a hotel in Vegas is considering using the Klout score of its guests to determine what kind of treatment they should receive.

But it seems that simply tweeting "YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED" at random strangers can push your score right up above normal people, because of Klout's interest in what gets reactions: "The Klout Score measures influence based on your ability to drive action," it explain on its site. On his blog, SEO expert Yousaf Sekhander takes the case of Twitter bot – @_BorgCollective. The _BorgCollective's Twitter feed looks like this:

BorgCollective Twitter credit: Yousaf Sekhander

It follows 46 Twitter profiles, has 104 followers and is currently listed six times. But its Klout ranking looks like this.

Borg Collective on Klout, credit Yousaf Sekhander

That's pretty high. The Reg has 2,200 followers and we have a Klout score of 71. My personal score is 44.

The CEO of Klout Joe Fernandez responded to the blog post in the comments, admitting that that yes, that is how Klout works – and that by Klout's criteria, BorgCollective is influential:

We believe influence is the ability to drive action. Is this BorgCollective account silly? Absolutely. Take a look at Twitter search, though, and you will see a long list of influencers engaging with that account over the last few days. It's a meme that is influencing people right now and will likely die down quickly.

So seems that tweeting something provocative but not immediately spammy to lots of people with lots of followers could get you a high Klout score – and the free rides in Audis and VIP hotel treatment that comes with it. Even if they just say "sod off", Klout will still count it.

In Klout, as in life, being a provocative attention-seeker makes you appear more influential regardless of whether you offer genuine value.

Yousaf writes: "I think there should be a clear distinction between 'noise', 'activity' and 'influence'. If someone is active and noisy, it does not necessarily mean that they are influential. From what I have seen, I think Klout is simply measuring levels of activity without filtering out noise and is therefore not in a position to measure influence."

Coincidentally, it is interesting to note that the founder of Klout, joefernandez, has a much higher Klout score than the founder of Twitter Evan Williams... Go figure. ®

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • LGBTQ+ folks warned of dating app extortion scams
    Uncle Sam tells of crooks exploiting Pride Month

    The FTC is warning members of the LGBTQ+ community about online extortion via dating apps such as Grindr and Feeld.

    According to the American watchdog, a common scam involves a fraudster posing as a potential romantic partner on one of the apps. The cybercriminal sends explicit of a stranger photos while posing as them, and asks for similar ones in return from the mark. If the victim sends photos, the extortionist demands a payment – usually in the form of gift cards – or threatens to share the photos on the chat to the victim's family members, friends, or employer.

    Such sextortion scams have been going on for years in one form or another, even attempting to hit Reg hacks, and has led to suicides.

    Continue reading
  • SpaceX staff condemn Musk's behavior in open letter
    Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why

    A group of employees at SpaceX wrote an open letter to COO and president Gwynne Shotwell denouncing owner Elon Musk's public behavior and calling for the rocket company to "swiftly and explicitly separate itself" from his personal brand.

    The letter, which was acquired through anonymous SpaceX sources, calls Musk's recent behavior in the public sphere a source of distraction and embarrassment. Musk's tweets, the writers argue, are de facto company statements because "Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX."

    Musk's freewheeling tweets have landed him in hot water on multiple occasions – one incident even leaving him unable to tweet about Tesla without a lawyer's review and approval. 

    Continue reading
  • Musk repeats threat to end $46.5bn Twitter deal – with lawyers, not just tweets
    Right as Texas AG sticks his oar in

    Elon Musk is prepared to terminate his takeover of Twitter, reiterating his claim that the social media biz is covering up the number of spam and fake bot accounts on the site, lawyers representing the Tesla CEO said on Monday.

    Musk offered to acquire Twitter for $54.20 per share in an all-cash deal worth over $44 billion in April. Twitter's board members resisted his attempt to take the company private but eventually accepted the deal. Musk then sold $8.4 billion worth of his Tesla shares, secured another $7.14 billion from investors to try and collect the $21 billion he promised to front himself. Tesla's stock price has been falling since this saga began while Twitter shares gained and then tailed downward.

    Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others promised to loan the remaining $25.5 billion from via debt financing. The takeover appeared imminent as rumors swirled over how Musk wanted to make Twitter profitable and take it public again in a future IPO. But the tech billionaire got cold feet and started backing away from the deal last month, claiming it couldn't go forward unless Twitter proved fake accounts make up less than five per cent of all users – a stat Twitter claimed and Musk believes is higher.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022