Google Doc Lock – Google As Censor

Monica Chin reports in Google is locking people out of documents, and you should be worried, Google’s role as censor has taken an ugly turn.

From the post:

“This morning, we made a code push that incorrectly flagged a small percentage of Google docs as abusive, which caused those documents to be automatically blocked,” the company told Mashable. “A fix is in place and all users should have access to their docs.”

Google added, “We apologize for the disruption and will put processes in place to prevent this from happening again.”

Still, the incident raises important questions about the control Google Docs users have over their own content. The potential to lose access to an important document because it hasn’t yet been polished to remove certain references or sensitive material has concrete implications for the way Google Docs is used.

For many who work in media and communications, Google Docs serves as a drafting tool, allowing writers and editors to collaborate. And, of course, it’s necessary and important for writers to retain ownership of documents that are early versions of their final product — no matter how raw — so as to put a complete draft through the editorial process.

Nobody should be writing hate speech or death threats in their Google docs — or anywhere.

But if Google’s flagging system is so glitchy as to incorrectly target other content, a Google Docs user on a deadline needs to be on their toes. Bale tweeted that she no longer plans to write in Google Docs. Until Google fully resolves this issue, perhaps other journalists should follow her lead.

Chin’s suggestion:

Nobody should be writing hate speech or death threats in their Google docs — or anywhere.

Is clearly not the answer to Google censorship.

What if you are a novelist who is unfortunate enough to be using Google Docs to write about white supremacy in the Trump White House? Unlikely I know (sarcasm) but it isn’t hard to think of fictional content that qualifies as “hate speech” or “death threats.” Nor should novelists be required to mark their writings as “fiction” to escape Google censorship.

A Google Docs lock has No Notice, No Opportunity to Be Heard Prior to Lockout, and No Transparent Process.

Three very good reasons to not use Google Docs at all.

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