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I was asked to be a guest on a TV show (to air yesterday I believe) to talk about social media, and thought I’d share some of the Q&A and my notes.

TOPIC 1: CLICKTIVISM

Social media has become an indispensable part of many people’s lives. The one trend that piqued our interest this year is social activism or “clicktivism”. The most recent being the #ill-ride-with-you movement. It emerged as a show of solidarity with Muslims in Australia after the deadly Sydney hostage crisis. Some people had voiced fears of repercussions as the hostage taker was an Iranian asylum seeker. How effective really are these hashtag movements?

They help create awareness if the underlying cause is viral worthy, and certainly, better than the alternative where there were no hashtags to lead to easy discovery.

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Facebook is in the press lately because the company is forcing users to communicate with friends through a separate Messenger app instead of the main Facebook app. The former is #1 on the app store but people are rebelling by slamming it with 1-star reviews. Privacy is also a common rallying cry, the accusation being that the app is too aggressive with permissions.

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Nobody likes to be forced to do anything, so it’s not surprising to see people react negatively. Many are still wary about online privacy, even as it is an increasingly illusory concept.

We think those knee jerk reactions are overblown. Facebook Messenger is a decent product and it’s no more aggressive in its privacy policies as other messaging apps.

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With Microsoft in the news recently (18,000 in layoffs!), we thought we’d check in with Skype 5.0, which launched last month for iPhone and will soon debut on Android. Skype used to be the name in messaging, but in today’s mobile world the venerable brand has become an afterthought to Whatsapp, LINE and even Google Hangouts. So how does Skype 5.0 fare?

The Skype team apparently rebuilt the app from scratch with a focus on speed. I’m glad to report the new version doesn’t feel slower than its competition. It looks good too. Microsoft wisely decided to stick to one common design (Windows Phone) and apply it everywhere. One nice upgrade is that if you use Skype for both desktop and iPhone, if a message is read on one it’s automatically marked as read on the other.

However, Skype remains as unusable as ever. Why? Contacts still works like it’s from the 90s. To message a new contact, I have to first search, hope the right person shows up and then manually add her. What makes it worse is that I haven’t used Skype in a long time, so most of the contacts in the “people” section are outdated.

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