Twitter Crimes: 1 – Klout Theft

Sadly, it’s endemic on Twitter. Not only content theft, but also the much less commonly recognised scourge of Klout Theft. You’ll probably be aware that your Klout is your Twitter influence. It’s not purely about how many followers you have – it’s about how many people really notice you, care about what you say, and respond to you. Klout has high value on Twitter. In fact, Klout has become such a valuable commodity that people are stealing it. You do the work, they get your Klout.

Klout Theft is the act of stealing a Twitter user’s influence by dodging the Retweet system when re-posting their content. Here’s one of the most common methods used by Klout Thieves. The original Tweet first…

And now the ‘Klout Theft’…

Klout Theft2

Rather than simply clicking the Retweet button, the Klout Thief will copy the text, along with any image link, then paste it into a new Tweet, composed from scratch – very often in the Reply box. The Klout Thief then typically encloses the text from the original Tweet in quotes, and mentions the original poster’s username in the new Tweet. The username will already be there if the new Tweet is composed in the Reply box. The creator is thus credited. So, the content is passed on, and the original poster gets his/her credit… That’s fine then, isn’t it?… No, and here’s why…


When someone Retweets you on Twitter, your influence as a user grows, and your exposure to new people is increased. If the Retweet goes viral, all of the benefit from that viral spread goes to you – the original poster. If the first Retweet is Retweeted again 1,000 times, you get 1,001 Retweets, and that has huge implications for your status on Twitter. It typically means you get a lot more Followers, and it certainly means an improvement in your influence – or your Klout. Twitter designed the site like that, so creative people with something to offer get rewarded.

But if someone re-posts your content, rather than Retweeting you, THEY get all the benefit of any further viral spread. If a re-posted message goes viral to the tune of 1K, then officially, the re-poster gets 1,000 Retweets, and you get zero. You don’t even get their ‘Retweet’, because they didn’t Retweet you – they republished you. It doesn’t matter how they recompose the message, whether they put the letters “RT” in it, or whatever, if they don’t click Retweet, it’s not a Retweet.

Not only does this hand all of your boost in influence to the Klout Thief – the evidence also pretty conclusively suggests that they, not you, will gain the bulk of the extra followers, if not all of them. Why would the ‘viral following’ go to the Klout Thief when they’ve mentioned your username in the Tweet and used quotes to indicate that the work is yours?… Simple: because people don’t pay attention to details on Twitter. They see the Klout Thief’s profile pic and the Klout Thief’s username heading the Tweet. They click the Tweet, click the Follow button: done. Your work, their gain.


This practice is rife on Twitter, with a significant percentage of all re-posting completely dodging the Retweet function. Few people complain about it, but they should, because they can be losing out, massively.


The other two main problems with Retweet-dodgers is that they take away the original poster’s right to remove their messages, and they subvert the privacy of account protection. If you close your Twitter account, all genuine Retweets of your messages will instantly disappear. The same applies if you simply Delete a Tweet. If at any point you decide you want the privacy of a Protected account, all your Tweets and Retweets become private when you protect. But if other users have dodged the Retweet system, any Tweets passed on by Klout Thieves will remain public. There are so many reasons why Retweet-dodging is a problem, it’s hard to know where to start.


No. No one using Twitter is unaware that the site offers a single-click Retweet function, so Klout Theft is a very deliberate act. It obviously takes longer to copy, paste and republish content than it does to click a Retweet button, so the whole process is calculated, reasoned, and engineered to commandeer the potential in the Tweet. No one takes the inconvenient route unless they have something extra to gain from it, and realistically, the only thing people who won’t use the Retweet button have to gain, is your Klout.

By giving a name to this sly, underhanded practice I hope I can help lend it the kind of stigma it needs. If someone is stealing your work on Twitter – even when they credit you in the republication, they are a Klout Thief. Link them to this post. Make them aware of the fact that you’re not stupid, and you know what their Retweet-dodging game is.