Klout Apologizes for Tweeting that MLK Would Have Had "an Awesome Klout Score"

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 29 2013 4:40 PM

Klout Apologizes for Tweeting that MLK Would Have Had "an Awesome Klout Score"

Martin Luther King, Jr. tweets to his followers about the Vietnam War.
Martin Luther King Jr. tweets to his followers about the Vietnam War.

Minnesota Historical Society / Flickr

Update: Klout has apologized for its tweet, saying that it was "written with positive intentions, but was in poor taste and should not have been posted."

Original post, Thursday, Aug. 29, 4:40 p.m.: Martin Luther King Jr. was many things: a clergyman, an orator, an anti-war activist, a civil rights leader—but above all, he was an Influencer. Or at least, he would have been, had he lived to see the day when people were assigned virtual badges and numerical scores by Silicon Valley startups based on their tweets and LinkedIn endorsements.

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Such, at any rate, was the thinking of a young Utah woman who on Thursday opted to share the following insight with her Twitter followers: "I bet Martin Luther King would have had an awesome Klout score." The observation would have slipped quietly into the dustbin of Twitter history, had not the social media minds at Klout itself seen fit to Engage with the young woman's tweet and wield their Influence on her behalf. "Definitely!" agreed @Klout, and retweeted her.

Not everyone, however, was convinced of this seemingly unimpeachable logic, and before long Klout had a new Moment on its hands:

Talk about generating action from the people in your networks! And yet, just as its own Klout score was no doubt poised to inch a point closer to those of Barack Obama and Justin Bieber, someone at Klout HQ apparently got cold feet. The tweet was deleted, and the Klout account has gone silent since, leaving this as its most recent tweet:

Perhaps the next tweet should be: "Wondering how not to engage your influencers? Follow @klout for useful examples! #influencechat #smmeasure"

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

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