Popularity Contests

There are people out there who crave social situations; who love to have a million friends all hanging on their ever word no matter how inane, who have to be the center of attention and will use any method of achieving that goal that they can.  It just means that for this person being social and having a million people like them even superficially on a social network is important to them.

Then you have other people who fit into other categories.  The ones that don’t know what the social networks are, don’t care for them or what they represent, refuse to post inane comments on any website, are incredibly private, shy, introverted, and/or prefer to experience life away from a computer.  There are people who don’t really spend time online searching through websites, reading blogs, posting comments about every aspect of their daily life to a social networking site.

Of course there are people who fall between the two extremes.  All of those groups of people are fine.  If you are the one that craves the social situation then that is fine.  If you are one who prefers not to use social networking sites for any reason that is fine.  Everything in moderation and to each their own.  As long as what you do doesn’t break any laws.

However there are companies out there that would have you believe otherwise.  These are the companies that are scoring people on their social networking profiles; the number of friends, the amount of times you post, the reposting of your posts, if the posts are positive or not, what college you went to, where you worked, the job that you did, your Facebook Profile, the number of social networking sites to which you belong and keep up to date.  Any information associated to an online social networking site that is left public.  They are boiling it all down into a number.  Based on an algorithm that you in the majority of cases will never know and any change will impact your score.  Similar to the secret credit score algorithms[i] that banks use.  Only this one is based on social networking and other factors.

These companies include:

  1. Reppify[ii]: They evaluate people based on job, education history, connections and online footprint, and level of influence.  They then score a person and rank them against others.  They[iii] use the email address, and work history to match information publically available online.  They also email the person with their score and let them know how to increase it.
  2. BranchOut[iv] which uses an application tied into Facebook to allow companies to: post open jobs, search for candidates, know which candidates are connected[v] to people at the company already.  On their website[vi] they state “in today’s economy there are two competitive advantages you must have.  The first is a positive online presence, and the second if a social layer of your career. By social we mean real relationships, your family and friends on Facebook.”
  3. Identified[vii] which pulls data from Facebook through an application.  It examines college you attended, your accomplishments, and network of friends.  It then scores you and ranks you against others.  The CEO Brendan Wallace in an interview with Wired[viii] said, “If you went to a community college, your candidacy won’t be as attractive as a 4.0 from Harvard. That’s just a reality. We can’t change that. But it doesn’t mean you can’t become what you want to be. You just have to know what you need to do to get there.”
  4. Kred[ix] which measures influence and outreach.  They measure Facebook and Twitter users based on the number of tweets, retweets, mentions, followers, number of posts, shares, and event invitations.  The put users into communities based on the interests expressed in your Twitter Bio and the hashtags and keywords in posts over the last 1000 days.
  5. Klout[x] uses Twitter, Google+, and Facebook to measure users and rank them.  They[xi] measure influence online based on connections, how much those connections respond and pass on your posts, and how often top influencers in the network respond and share your content.
  6. PeerIndex[xii] who score[xiii] people based on their online authority. It “reflects the impact of your online activities, and the extent to which you have built up social and reputational capital on the web.”  Scores are based on authority, audience, and activity.  They[xiv] link with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  They also suggest people remove inactive followers from their accounts to improve their own score.  They also score on “quality” content.  Yet provide no definition for “quality/good content” only mention that it is important to only share “quality/good content”.

Already there is a story about someone who went to interview for job and was turned down[xv] because their number was not high enough.  There are companies who are offering products and services to those with high numbers.  It all comes down to popularity, how much you post, if the posts are positive or not and how much others talk about you.  Stop posting, responding, re-posting, etc., for any amount of time and scores go down.  If they change the algorithm for calculating your score it can go up or down.

I can understand the hiring manager has to figure out how to screen out applicants.  They want to use various tools that they can to accomplish that goal, including social networking scoring.  In a letter by the FTC they determined that the corporation Social Intelligence[xvi] when used by a company to arrive at a score to be used in the hiring process falls under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  In the letter they state:

“Social Intelligence is a consumer reporting agency because it assembles or evaluates consumer report information that is furnished to third parties that use such information as a factor in establishing a consumer’s eligibility for employment. Consumer reporting agencies must comply with several different FCRA provisions, and these compliance obligations apply equally in the social networking context. For example, consumer reporting agencies must take reasonable steps to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of the information reported from social networking sites. Consumer reporting agencies must also provide employers who use their consumer reports with information about their obligations under the FCRA, such as their obligation to provide employees or applicants with notice of any adverse action taken on the basis of these reports.”

If a person has to spend all that time working on getting a high score and to keep it has to post at least once every thirty minutes,[xvii] when do they actually have time for anything else?  What kind of employee are you really getting if you want one with a high “social networking” score that is based on how much they post and repost?  How much time do they have to actually do their job?


Links in article:

[i] Credit Scoring (http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/credit-scoring/20031104a1.asp)

[ii] Repiffy Products (http://www.reppify.com/reppify-products/)

[iii] Didn’t Get that New Job? You Need A Better Facebook Score (http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2011/11/reppify-identified-facebook-linkedin/?utm)

[iv] BranchOut (http://branchout.com/)

[v] BranchOut Social Jobs (http://business.branchout.com/products-socialjobs)

[vi] BranchOut About (http://business.branchout.com/about-tour)

[vii] Identified About (http://www.identified.com/about#about)

[viii] Didn’t Get that New Job? You Need A Better Facebook Score (http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2011/11/reppify-identified-facebook-linkedin/?utm)

[ix] Kred Rules (http://kred.com/rules)

[x] Klout (http://klout.com/home)

[xi] Klout Score (http://klout.com/corp/kscore)

[xii] PeerIndex About (http://www.peerindex.com/help/about)

[xiii] PeerIndex Scores (http://www.peerindex.com/help/scores)

[xiv] PeerIndex FAQ (http://www.peerindex.com/help/faq)

[xv] What your Klout Score Really Means (http://www.wired.com/business/2012/04/ff_klout)

[xvi] FTC ruling on Social Intelligence Corporation (http://www.ftc.gov/os/closings/110509socialintelligenceletter.pdf)

[xvii] What your Klout Score Really Means (http://www.wired.com/business/2012/04/ff_klout)

2 responses to “Popularity Contests”

  1. Very interesting post. As I am not on Facebook, used Linked-In for a very short while as it took too much time, I would score very low. I guess I am not that interested in what people do with every waking moment, as I am sure they would not be interested in mine. Thanks for following my blog and please offer your wisdom and thoughts. I appreciate the vocabulary words you have as I am a crossword junkie and read a lot. Best regards. I will stop by in the future.


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