My Five #65

Google+ controversy, a rap battle for Google, Skype regains control after hacking, common sense customer service rules and more.

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My Five: Five things worth sharing from the last week (or so), brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.

This week’s My Five is by Katie.

1. Google+ vs. User Friendliness

Google+ is back… not that it ever went away, but I certainly stopped hearing about it for a while at least. It hit the news this week when it was revealed that the integration of Google+ into its Android operating system led to a transgender woman being ‘outed’. The software to blame was the Google Hangouts app, which has become the default text-messaging app since the release of the latest mobile software. However, the app appears to not only be very confusing to use but it can also share personal information without your permission (sounds a bit like Facebook who hit the news again recently with another possible intrusion).

When an SMS is sent only the senders phone number is revealed, but if a Google message is sent then the senders entire Google profile is revealed. This led to a transgender woman sending a Google message under her female name to a colleague who knew her only as a man. She mistakenly thought she was sending an SMS.

It’s largely down to user error, but Google is getting the lion’s share of the blame for this. But it certainly has got Google+ back into the news, which reminds me of the saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”…

2. Rap Genius vs. Google, Aaron Wall vs. Matt Cutts

Annotated lyrics website Rap Genius lost 80% of its traffic over Christmas after embarking on a stupidly spammy adventure, which saw them sending their Facebook fans an awful lot of keyword rich deep links (or spam as it’s otherwise known) to include a multitude of Justin Bieber links on their own personal blogs in exchange for a tweet from Rap Genius. For the full story of their shady tactics, this is the post that first exposed them.


So just before Christmas Google rightly investigated them for “growth hacking”, found them guilty and swifty demoted them – with not even searches for ‘Rap Genius’ bringing the site up. A mere ten days later Rap Genius were ranking again.

They say that they just got everyone involved in the dodgy scheme to remove the links, but the SEO industry thinks that something is amiss, prompting claims of double standards and unfair treatment. SEOBook’s Aaron Wall hit back with a scathing blog post which makes for a good read, unless of course you are Matt Cutts.

3. Skype vs. The Syrian Electronic Army

Last week the Twitter, Facebook and blog of Microsoft owned Skype were ‘compromised’ as the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) took control, sending anti-spying and anti-Microsoft messages. The blog told readers that Hotmail and Outlook “are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments”, referring back to the Snowden disclosures that Microsoft has been targeted for by the US National Security Agency for data collection about people using the company’s services. The SEA also posted the contact details for Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer on twitter.

It appears that Skype committed the number one error of having the same password for everything, meaning that the SEA didn’t even have to try very hard. On Monday Skype had taken back control and wanted to reassure users that no accounts or user information had been compromised.

4. Social Media Trolls vs. Customer Service

Mashable posted a guide this week which gives advice to businesses who use social media for customer service. It appears that there is always a disaster waiting to happen (see Browser’s Favourite Fails of 2013) on an incredibly public forum. Mashable has provided seven tips on how to handle difficult Facebookers, but it’s made me truly question the common sense of a lot of the world.

If someone is causing trouble for your brand, why wouldn’t you sort out the problem by moving it to a private conversation, or ban really abusive users? Do you actually need someone to tell you to sort out issues that are giving your brand a bad name? Really? You can have a read for yourself here, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t know it all already.

5. Normality vs. The Selfie Olympics

I’m not a selfie fan and find most to be pretty self obsessed, but I do however appreciate an ironic selfie. So the selfie Olympics amused me in the way that only a man skateboarding on a chair or a guy drinking champagne on a bike in a shower wearing a captain’s hat can.

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