Imagine you're working on a Google Doc when, seemingly out of nowhere, your ability to edit the online file gets revoked. What you see instead is an error message indicating that you've violated Google's terms of service.
For anyone who stores work in the cloud, suddenly being unable to access your data — especially due to a terms of service violation — may sound scary. And it's really happening to some people, according to reports on Twitter. Rachael Bale, a wildlife crime reporter for National Geographic, said Tuesday that a draft of her story was "frozen" by Google.
In response to some of these reports, a Google employee tweeted that the team handling Google Docs was looking into the matter. Later Tuesday, Google said in a statement that it had "made a code push that incorrectly flagged a small percentage of Google Docs as abusive, which caused those documents to be automatically blocked. A fix is in place and all users should have full access to their docs."
Although the error appeared to be a technical glitch, the fact that Google is capable of identifying "bad" Google Docs at all is a reminder: Much of what you upload, receive or type to Google is monitored. While many people may be aware that Gmail scans your emails — for instance, so that its smart-reply feature can figure out what responses to suggest — this policy extends to other Google products, too.
"Our automated systems analyze your content.."