Danny Brown presents a solid argument that Klout, a social influence website, should never have created a profile for my friend Naomi without Naomi authorizing its creation. Yet, because she has a Twitter account, Klout assumed she would want a Klout profile — and here it is.
“No permission – there you are, as bright as day online, with whatever score they deem you fit to have based on their perception of you,” writes Danny. “You don’t add people to something and not ask them their permission (unless there’s some legal reason to do so). Especially when that information is there for anyone to see, and make a snap judgement on.”
Klout should never have created that profile for Naomi without enabling her to give Klout explicit permission to do so.
Klout is not alone in this backward thinking.
Stepping away from individuals and focusing on municipalities, there are a host of websites that offer municipal services and assume people want to read about their communities on their corporately-branded websites. In my hometown of Newburyport, for instance, here is one page on CitySearch and another page on SeeClickFix.
These companies never asked city leaders for permission to create these brand pages. Nor did either company inform the city that people were writing reviews and issuing complaints.
Should permission take precedence all the time?
If I want to review your company on a peer-review website such as Yelp, and if your company lacks its own Yelp page, I can create your page myself. I frequently review restaurants to share my knowledge with others, such as last winter’s review of a New Hampshire cafe.
Yelp’s popularity lies in the fact that anyone can review anything.
Should people not be empowered to create a page for your business on Yelp? Should people not be allowed to give thumbs up or thumbs down to your establishment without your opting in and giving permission for the reviews in advance? Should you be in control of everything or should you let critiques occur organically?
Are the rules for opting in and opting out different for individuals than for communities and organizations?