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    New York Times: When Sites Drag the Unwitting Across the Web

    The New York Times reports on the issue of online identification via data mining of disparate Web sites to create files on individuals and how this profiling can draw include children:

    Consider the case of Maggie Leifer McGary, mother, blogger and social media fan. Ms. McGary is on virtually every existing social network: Foursquare, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. She is also on Klout, a popular site that assigns you a score based on its analysis of how influential you are on the social Web.

    In the days just before Halloween, Ms. McGary got the fright of her life when she checked her Klout profile. Hovering above her score were the faces and names of those over whom she had influence, as calculated by Klout. They included her 13-year-old son, Matthew.

    The boy had never set up a Klout page for himself; he was only her Facebook “friend,” so she could monitor his interactions there. Klout had automatically created a page for him and assigned him a score. […]

    “It’s wrong. They shouldn’t be marketing to children,” [Ms. McGary said.]

    Klout says it does not. And since this brouhaha, Klout no longer creates profiles automatically, of minors or anyone else, and every Klout user can now delete a profile entirely.

    The Klout kerfuffle is a parable of what can happen when you have an active digital social life. Not only do you leave your own digital footprints everywhere, but you can also drag your online friends with you from site to site, even if they have no interest in going there.

    Klout culls information about individuals from publicly available sources: posts and followers on Twitter, engagement on Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and so on. […]

    Klout, like a host of other influence yardsticks in the digital marketplace, like PeerIndex and Kred, is used by marketers to reach habitual comment makers who are likely to promote their products on social networks. It can be used by employers, teachers, homecoming queen committees — anyone — to gauge someone’s popularity. […]

    “People need to be aware — if you’re active on social networks, you’re bringing your social graph with you, and that includes your friends and family,” [Ms. McGary] said.

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