Friday, August 14, 2009

Google Censoring Me?

I was surprised to see that the spreadsheet I shared in my most recent post has been blocked from the public. When I visit the page I see this warning:

This spreadsheet is currently blacklisted, and not visible to the public. You are seeing this spreadsheet because you are on an internal IP.

What does THAT mean. Unfortunately, Google won't tell me why my sheet was blacklisted. When I go to their problem report page, there is one link about the DMCA there. But my spreadsheet only includes domain names of other sites, and data I have generated myself. Did someone file a complaint with Google about it?

This points out a very serious problem with cloud computing and Google's policies in particular. If Google is going to try to censor my speech on the internet, should they not at least provide me with visibility to the reasons? I received no prior warning (NO notification at ALL, in fact) that they were going to blacklist this page, nor do I have an opportunity to confront my accuser - whomever that may be.

I am a huge Google fan in general - so this behavior comes as quite a shock to me.

4 comments:

jwbito said...

It is very disturbing if Google doesn't provide any mechanism to restore the accessibility of your content.

I wonder if Google is implementing some new automation to counter nefarious usage. I created a blog on blogspot in June and a couple of weeks later it was marked as SPAM. In that case, there was a pretty clear path to 'appeal' the decision and the blog was restored to normal after a day or two. In that case I didn't have a strong objection to the inconvience, as it's understandable that steps are taken to limit abuse.

I'm inclined to think it's a bug or human error - maybe some tool that was supposed to remove porn from Google video was deployed against Google docs by an overworked sysadmin.

Mike Koss said...

Google has contacted me following my report. They are investigating the cause now. By guess is that one of the links in my spreadsheet was used to distribute malware, and got flagged as such.

It does seem troubling to me that merely having a link on my site is enough to get content blacklisted by Google.

chronomex said...

I'm actually here for the data in your URL shorteners spreadsheet! Bummer that it got blocked by Google, but I'm glad to know that you still have the data.

If you can't get it put back online, would you be so kind as to share your data with me? I'm working with ArchiveTeam to scrape or copy all of the URL shorteners in existence, so they can be stored in the Internet Archive for posterity.

In fact, if you're willing to share the database from go2.me, that would be excellent. :)

Mike Koss said...

@chronomex

Great idea to "backup" all the URL shorteners links (esp. in light of tr.im announcing they are going out of business at the end of the year).

Google re-instated my spreadsheet, so the domains are back online for you.

As to Go2.me - we have a publicly documented API which you can use to extract the original link address.

http://code.google.com/p/g02me/wiki/API