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Google removed my ads-free app for “deceptive ads” (purpleleafsoftware.com)
621 points by jeremydeanlakey on March 25, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 322 comments

The exact same thing happened to me last week

My ads-free really simple React Native app was removed from the play store for “deceptive ads”

I don't care too much as this was just a way to learn React Native for me, but it's still really weird

To be honest every interaction I have with Google products nowadays are bad:

- This app kicked from the Play store

- A bug with the new Adsense Auto-ads where you couldn't disable the giant ads that were added on your content without removing completely Google Adsense script, which I did

I'm now moving away from anything Google

Can apps be decompiled easily?

I'd imagine one could download the app, report it for whatever (eg ads), wait for the automated system to remove it, then upload your own version (with ads, and what ever else).

Or if not decompiled, perhaps you got spearphished for access to your apps code, or it was acquired some other way.

Similar things probably happen as far as malicious reporting for sales platforms (like Amazon). If you 'steal' the product I imagine Amazon would even handover the original sellers good product reviews too.

If they are Java, which most are, then yes. Unless you use obfuscation, Java decompile is trivial.

Don't forget to switch to something else than Google Chrome as well.

I've switched to Brave a long time ago already

And to protonmail for emails

When you receive that email from Google you can only fill a generic form given at the bottom of the email. You can't contact a human being to understand why it is rejected/removed. Problem is not written clearly and it doesn't include a screenshot as apple does. Google is terrible at support on Play Store (and some more of its services).

I understand that Google wants to handle as much as possible with a support.py script, but they really should start having people to contact.

Maybe there should be a fee for a support request and if the Google rep finds that Google's automated system messed up they report the problem internally and refund the fee to the app developer.

If there's going to be a fee it should come out of Google's $100+ billion in savings that they are accruing in part by evading expenses like customer support. This person, and all Play store developers, are customers that paid Google to publish on their app store. They shouldn't have to additionally pay Google to provide the same support that is standard everywhere else even at scale, such as AT&T, Comcast, Amazon etc.

In the case of Google, neither developers nor end-users are customers. Their true customers are buyers of space to display ads, and buyers of data from user tracking.

While that was true twenty years ago, it was more like ads were the only service they had and buying their [only] service made a customer. Purchasing their goods and services is still what makes you their customer in most countries where the term is defined by commerce departments or similar, and now Google offers much more than just ads.

I pay Google each month for Google Music, phone service, and for hosting. I'd say I'm a customer of theirs.

Any processing fee should only go to a third party, otherwise you'll have a hard time avoiding bad incentives. Even for something like youtube, were you already have three parties, any arbitrator should be mostly independent from google, since they have a lot of control about what conflicts emerge in the first place (think content ID, punishments for false DMCAs, etc).

But i really cannot understand why something like this doesn't already exist. Imagine how many false DMCA conflicts could be avoided if both parties had to place a $5 deposit to get a human ruling. And the $5 of the losing party should easily be enough to compensate the arbitrators work for most conflicts. Building such a mechanical turk like small claims online arbitration service seems easy and no matter how hard I try, I cannot come up with any reason youtube wouldn't want to use such a service. So why does it not exist already?

I'm not confident a fee structure that incentivizes Google to not be wrong will work that well.

At the very least they're being honest about not giving a shit about their users.

users = app developers?

Yes, app developers are a type of their user. They use their sdk and app store to build and deliver products.

Same experience at RescueTime. I don't understand why Apple is able to have humans interact with developers, but Google is not.

Can we sue Google when they do things like this? No single entity should wield this much power. And we should rewrite the laws to make this so.

Google and Apple wanted to be in the role of gatekeeper, so they should be beholden to the apps on their platform. We had a web where developers were in control of their own deployment. Everything was decentralized and required responsibility and diligence.

Now the power is out of our hands and its unfair. It isn't our choice.

One might argue this is better for consumers, but I honestly don't think so. Technology could have fixed discoverability and provided sandboxing, networks could provide curation. And there would probably be better privacy in the world where Mozilla won instead of Google.

Edit: I am so happy that GDPR and CDPA have arrived to protect consumers. We need similar laws to protect startups, small businesses, and sole proprietors that rely on these platforms to treat us fairly. They owe us that after haven taken away the nice open web we once had. Maybe laws are how we get back the web we lost.

> No single entity should wield this much power. And we should rewrite the laws to make this so.

I think in fact a lot of people do want them to do this. Folks complain the Play store is full of malware and spam, and that there are data leaks and deceptive ads.

Then Google or Apple goes and removes them, and then folks are mad if that process has errors.

It seems like a business where you make everyone mad no matter what you do.

[edit: Just to be clear, I'm not a fan of the practice. But an awful lot of folks seem to think Apple and Google SHOULD wield editorial power, if only to stop outright malware. And of course, certain politicians want to make sure that the internet refuses to show content unflattering to people in power]

It is absolutely possible to do this without making people mad. The solution is simple: educated, intelligent customer service for developers. Heck, make them pay a developer subscription fee to make the customer service cost-neutral. Or make them pay a refundable deposit to escalate a situation for manual review by a trained developer, at the cost of a market salary for however long that developer would take to review the situation.

But this cuts into the gatekeepers' profit. Why have a cost-neutral program when you can not worry about having that program at all, and (in Apple's case) still charge people for access to the store and documentation?

I think what Google and Apple should do is to add support for a "premium" upload feature. Leave the standard process as it is, but add a "premium tier". For a fee of 100 EUR, you get to upload an app, and you get a competent review from a real human within a certain time frame, with a list of all things that you must change to make it compliant.

The problem is that right now a spammer who creates hundreds of low effort apps gets the same service as someone who spent months or years on an app, only to get it banned over a minor issue.

I know that reviewing apps and quality control costs a lot of money for Google and Apple, and I'm ready to pay for it, as long as I get some peace of mind that they don't kick me for accidentally violating some policy with a feature that thousands of other apps have as well.

It already costs $100 to be able to upload an app to Apple's App Store - I feel like that sort of support should be included in that price.

$100/year to upload unlimited apps.

Also, iOS developers can reach people at Apple.

I meant 100€ per review.

> The solution is simple: educated, intelligent customer service for developers

In reality, even uneducated stupid customer service would be better than the current state of affairs. And it's not just play store developers - these youtube takedowns, etc, costly people real money.

These large platforms are markets in their own right, and should be seen as such. They are simply too big to be covered by existing laws.

I shouldn't have to pay for that customer service if Google or Apple's cut is 30% of app revenues.

I'm pretty sure that 99% of apps on the store make so little revenue that it's not worth it to pay someone competent to review them, especially with all the ad supported free apps. So a very low percentage of apps pay for the cost of running the app store.

A fixed filing fee would level that imbalance.

Developers pay $25 or so on sign up.

And after paying those $25 they are free to spam the review team with hundreds of submissions? Doesn't sound sustainable to me.

If App Stores charged a fee per submission, that would drastically cut down on spam submissions, and free up resources for those of us who actually put a lot of effort into our apps.

Once you set a fee I know apps will be updated less often, it'd be sad for open-source apps - which I'd say are the most useful of all apps on Google Play.

So a fee on initial submission... updates not charged. Will still put a crimp in the spam-app floods.

If you spend hundreds of hours working on something, paying a reasonable fee to publish it is not going to stop anyone.

Which barely covers a competent person sipping a coffee whilst glancing at the title of your app.

Realistically, if you spent 20 hours developing the app, you're already $3000 invested on this project. Another $100-$500 isn't THAT big of a deal when you look at it in those terms

You're assuming 20 hours is worth the same to everyone. When I was a college student, even $100 would have turned me off from publishing an app.

That’s why most edu addresses get huge breaks

> I think in fact a lot of people do want them to do this.

I, the engineer, do not want them to do this. Before Google and Apple, I didn't have this problem. I didn't have to pay their tax or march to their beat.

You might argue that it's their platform and that's the cost for us to pay. But it wasn't always this way! These companies leveraged their advantages to steal eyeballs away from an open web and lock them in their own platform.

They could have spent money making the open web work better on mobile. Or designing a portable app framework and runtime for all devices. But we know why they didn't and what the outcome has been.

I want them to pay back the negative externalities they've leveraged onto us.

Well, at the same time users had to deal with adware, viruses, etc.

Your needs as a developer don’t trump users needs.

They could have spent money making the open web work better on mobile. Or designing a portable app framework and runtime for all devices. But we know why they didn't and what the outcome has been.

And write once run everywhere worked so well with Java applets.

Please, you engineer, do your best to make the app usable from a browser.

I dislike apps. Sometimes they make sense. Fine.

Often, they do not, or offer less functionality than PC or web does.

If you need payment, make that easy, same. Cancel easy too. Just because that is nice, and we all could use nice. You like nice, I like nice. Let us be nice.

If you need profanity, whatever, I get it. Let's be adults.

I don't like the gate keepers and do not trust them. I do not expect you to trust me, nor you me.

Clean, open, portable web for both of us as much as can be managed.

I support you, you support me, us.

I can be a user on linux, android, iOS, Windows, BSD, whatever I can get on the web.

Sometimes dependent stuff is needed for the job. I get it. Please try to avoid that stuff, and I will try and run more relevant systems.


I really do avoid apps, really do try and be a good user, really do prefer web and really do run a bunch of OSes.

We both are rare. I do advocacy every chance I get. Maybe you can too.

Stick together in a figurative sense.

My development is small, embedded systems and or specific purpose programs. Enough to get the engineer speaking here.

Hopefully, you are a user enough to do similar things.

I happen to prefer the exactly opposite - I don't want to run the browser (or a browser-wrapper), I want app to be native.

<rant>Websites lack solid, consistent and platform-native look-and-feel. They are always limited, they aren't integrated with the operating system (i.e. task switcher), they are slow on almost anything (because modern web browsers are ugly giant behemoths. I've recently built myself a very beefy machine (16-core CPU, 128GiB RAM) and even now _sometimes_ sites are still choppy. On mobile, lots of sites are performing poorly.</rant>

Both are just fine.

For me, on mobile, it takes a LOT to bother with an app. Any alternative, even close to reasonable, gets the nod every time.

On a PC, this is less of an issue. Applications will often have great, or superior functionality. No worries.

On mobile? No. The opposite is nearly always true.

Should have been clear.

As for solid platform look and feel... depends there too. If the UX is really optimized for the task, I will take it. Have used so many now. Almost non issue there.

Generally I dislike app stores. This favors PC too.

Perhaps the best features about the web, though, are the share-centric nature of being able to pass around a link, the control we have over the client, and the distribution of apps and info that's least encumbered by gatekeepers.

For example, let's go all the way to the other end of the spectrum where the web as we know it didn't take off and everything was siloed into native apps that you had to download from the App Store before trying something new.

That seems pretty grim to me. I think we're in a sweet spot and lucky to have both.

Haha nice one. I shall too advocate :D

It all adds up.

> Before Google and Apple, I didn't have this problem. I didn't have to pay their tax or march to their beat.

You still don't! You don't have the play by their rules, and you can still target everyone who has a non-Google or non-Apple phone, which as a target market is appreciably no one, much as it was before Google and Apple entered the phone market.

You can target them if they have phones produced by your hated manufacturers anyway by making your app a webapp instead of a native app.

You don't want to do those things, and that's fine, but you're yearning to go back to a time that never existed.

> back to a time that never existed

Personal PCs were just this back in the 90's and 00's. Microsoft tried to create a walled garden, but it failed due to the world wide web.

Google and Apple saw how Microsoft failed and decided that the app store would be a first class citizen on day one and that the mobile web [1] would be an afterthought. They learned from Microsoft's mistake and used their positions to make app stores the new status quo.

It could have easily gone a different way, but I understand how the business interests got us to where we are.

[1] the mobile web wouldn't have been nice without more money and research poured into it. The web stack could have been supplemented or a new one could have been developed. These companies obviously had other priorities than to pay for something that netted them nothing, but individual developers wound out worse for it.

Actually, you've got that history a little backward. The original iPhone had no App Store and had only web apps; that was the promoted way to develop for the platform. It was only after the phone's release and the mad clamor from developers to be allowed to develop native applications that an SDK was released and the App Store created.

My mistake. Thank you for correcting me.

I think you are accidentally retconning current status quo onto the past - early mobile internet was terrible, low bandwidth enough that mobile was about /fitting/ the page down the pipe instead of user interface, and also expensive with far lesser adoption such that wifi-only tablets/PDAs were more of a thing.

Google still has complete control over how well your web app is ranked in search results and they change rules and criteria all of the time, sometimes with little notice. Google search console is infuriatingly vague. Google is inescapable and opaque and I’m glad politicians are finally seeing these entities as monopoly powers that need to be addressed. They have a monopoly market share in web search and mobile devices so how is anyone supposed to NOT play by their rules?

You seriously overestimate their both their automated and manual control if you think they are capable of passive aggressive actions to non-entities. They closest they can come is hiding autosuggest when too many people complain or it becomes too sensitive like say "Ted Cruz Zodiac Killer".

They have much much done more than soft-censor autocomplete.

Google search for: women are toxic

Their SERPS will only return quotes on toxic MASCULINITY. Do the same thing in Yandex and they'll give you the correct results. Google uses AI to identify "non-PC sites" and push them down in the SERPS.

FWIW you can target Google phones outside Google Play too. You just need to tell the user to enable some settings and download an APK.

> I, the engineer, do not want them to do this

Eh, you are but one person, amongst billions. There's a good chance that what you don't want != what others want.

That's the problem with targeting the lowest common denominator. Since that LCD is mindless consumption, that's what the ecosystem evolves to. If you have stuff to actually do, you're increasingly out of luck.

AFAIKT, Google indeed pushes Progressive Web Apps pretty hard.

> I, the engineer, do not want them to do this.

You don't matter, consumers matter.

> Before Google and Apple, I didn't have this problem.

And you didn't have distribution either.

> But it wasn't always this way!

Indeed, there wasn't even distribution. Do you actually remember what was shipping mobile software back in 2005?

> I want them to pay back the negative externalities they've leveraged onto us.

Again, you as an engineer don't matter, only as a consumer. And consumers have never had so many options and at such low prices.

I don't entirely disagree with you, but what do we call the web if not distribution?

Someone still has to at least pay for the bandwidth though...

I agree it's not an Apples to Apples comparison, but it always strikes me that people forget they used to have to pay for distribution too.

I remember one piece of software I was working on would cost the company around $5K per release in download costs alone.

The web didn't disappear, quite the opposite.

Now you have the web AND the in-device app stores. Even more choice.

But they're not equal citizens on mobile devices. Web often feels sluggish on mobile, and it doesn't have the same access to device and hardware APIs, nor does it allow low-level control of concurrency and allocation. (I don't want to get off topic about HTML/JS. It does a lot of jobs well.)

There could have been an open, cross-platform native app stack if Apple and Google and a consortium of other companies had joined forces and made it so. There's no technical reason preventing this. The economic incentives got us to where we are.

Devices should be easy to target. There should be the option to use multiple app stores right off the bat, and you shouldn't have to bundle to get access to Gmail. Or even better - point your browser at gmail.com and get the native app installed on your mobile device. Distributed updates from gmail.com sans app store. The OS would still control permissions and guard against malicious apps.

The world wide web era was truly unique and special, and it's a shame the same principles didn't carry into the mobile world.

> There's no technical reason preventing this. The economic incentives got us to where we are.

What's the difference? There's also no technical reason preventing you from developing your own cross-platform native app stack that beats Apple's and Google's with no conceivable return on investment, constant PR disasters, and time-consuming negotiation with bad-faith or incompetent partners. The forces that stop you are mostly economic.

You can do all of that, just download the apk. What you seem to want is that app stores should be forced to accept any apps?

The rest is just saudosistic nostalgia. There wasn't mass access to the internet, you're just missing the times when a small elite had access to the internet.

Consumers are far better now than they were.

There was open access to the internet when aol started giving away cd-roms. Rich and poor, educated and less educated roamed different sites often clashing.

The interest wasn't massive because things were not super easy. Phones bridged the gap. Fast forward to today you have less choice but bigger buy buttons.

> rich and poor

You seem to have a mental image of the internet that doesn't correspond to reality. Poor didn't have access, they couldn't afford a computer, much less an internet plan.

Step out of the Hacker News bubble for a bit.

> Poor didn't have access, they couldn't afford a computer, much less an internet plan. Step out of the Hacker News bubble for a bit.

I was very, very poor. So were most of the kids I grew up with. Most of us couldn't afford new computers; that's true. So we bought old ones. My father - tears in his eyes - lugged in something ancient that he'd picked up for $50, having no idea how to use it but hoping that putting it in front me would do me some good. AOL had been mailing everyone in town (Detroit). Some kids got PCs from the nearby churches, some got them from the school (others still only ever used them in school). We collected and hoarded the access disks, and would go ringing each others' phones or knocking down doors to share websites we'd found. Imagine my embarrassment when I realized the AOL search results page was not the entire internet, and that I could click on any text with a blue outline.

> doesn't correspond to reality

I know there are people who managed (or didn't..) to grow up poorer than I did. But even poverty is a spectrum.

Very poor where? In the US?

The "very poor" in the US are rich in most of the developing world.

I am aware of this, anticipated this response from you (as you’ve repeated in this thread), and addressed it at the end of the comment you’re replying to. I do not believe that a global perspective diminishes the argument in any way.

Oh, it does. Only 5% of the global population had access to the internet in 2000.

If that doesn't qualify it as a product only available to the elites, I don't know what will...

Given the nature of your position it feels ironic to be saying to you that if you feel my family was amongst the worlds’ “elite” just because we lived in the US, then I believe you may need a more nuanced outlook on people. Also, there’s a tent-city of people outside my building who’d like a word with you.

Oh, if you could afford a computer, even an used one, in the 90's you were definitely part of a global elite.

Heck, in 2000, just under 30% of the global population had access to properly built sanitation services.

And about 28% of the global population live with under a $1 (in PPP) per day.

Respectfully, I think you are lacking some context about life in other countries.

> Respectfully,

I’m not though, and I have already said so. My original “poverty is a spectrum” comment still firmly addresses everything you’ve said, so if we still disagree, we can agree that’s ok.

The implication of “Consumers are far better now than they were” is that they are better, because of the App Store. This is false, completely illogical, and a straw man argument (as no one suggest users of tech have it worse in 2019 then 2005). Consumers are better off now, because technology has gotten better, not because App Stores have made things better. App Stores have actively caused harm to the consumers through lock in and through a compression of imagination amongst end users of how much better things could be.

You’re also factually incorrect about “a small elite had access to the internet”. That may have been true in the 80s, but by 2000 usage was at 50% and climbed to 75% by 2010. I mean the dot com boom was predicated on wide user adoption, so I don’t even know why you would even think that stat made inuitive sense.


> The implication of “Consumers are far better now than they were” is that they are better, because of the App Store. This is false, completely illogical, and a straw man argument (as no one suggest users of tech have it worse in 2019 then 2005).

No, it isn't false. Buying and/or installing an app today is orders of magnitude easier, safer and cheaper than 2005.

You clearly don't like it, and you probably are part of the little elite that had access to the internet before the general public did.

You can still do online everything that you used to in 2005, nothing was removed.

> That may have been true in the 80s, but by 2000 usage was at 50% and climbed to 75% by 2010.

Sorry the break the news to you, but the US isn't the world.

Maybe you should step out of the hacker news bubble for a minute.

Your premise is sound. But it's in your conclusion that you miss the point. The point is its not 2005 anymore. Today, if Google didn't do it, someone else will and can. Except that a certain brand of monopolies set things up in a way that a rather worrying number of people think that without these monopolies there's no other choice. You think that it's Google that's enabled and empowered all of us. That, my friend, is where you are wrong.

Sure, someone else might have done it, but that's irrelevant. It doesn't matter if it was Google or Apple, or someone else.

What matters is only the impact to the consumer, and the consumer is far, far better off than in 2005.

Why can't mobile follow the same model as desktop?

The desktop distribution model was awful. I wasted many many hours in the past cleaning crapware from family PCs.

To be fair, complain about your family, not the desktop model. Its like babyproofing, the equivalent of no one beeing allowed to buy a steakknife because some people are not grown up enough to handle one carefully.

edit: Its ofcourse a difficult subject, like with your parents getting too old to drive and not recognizing it, but after all not a technical but a societal problem.

From talks with colleagues I concluded that these issues were widespread enough to conclude that problem was not my family but the desktop distribution model.

Its definitely widespread, I didnt want to imply it was just your family. There is a large group that cant handle admin rights responsibly. I just dont think general restrictions are in order here. We should much rather educate this group instead of giving up ownership over our devices. Especially since we dont have the appstore model out of security considerations, but because monopolists want to keep people in walled gardens. Ownership of your device is to great of a good to give it up in the name of security.

And society fixed it by voting for the vendors that baby proofed the devices.

Because people don’t want to spend hours uninstalling malware their devices.

It does, you can download an apk and install it on Android.

Don't you have to enable some kind of global special access right? So it's not the same thing.

Yes, and its super hard now. When I installed the new android version the only way I could get fdroid installed was flashing it as a system app in the recovery.

You have to do that on Windows and macOS now as well...

I haven't had to enable some global setting to allow unknown programs on Windows 10. What are you referring to?

Last time I did a fresh install of Windows 10 Home I had to go into Apps & features and disable "Allow apps from the Store only" in order to install Chrome. Didn't seem to have to do that on Windows 10 Pro.

> Folks complain the Play store is full of malware and spam, and that there are data leaks and deceptive ads.

They have trouble with false positive and false negatives. This does not make me want to give them more power.

The problem is the process is largely automated, both for approval and removal. If trash wasn't let into the Play Store in the first place, there wouldn't be so many issues with pulling content back out of it. Consumers and developers alike would be far better off dealing with a properly human-curated store with actual customer service, even if it meant there were less apps in it.

> If trash wasn't let into the Play Store in the first place

How exactly do you plan on enforcing this without automation? There are millions of apps on the Play Store. Many are updated dozens of times a year. How many thousands of reverse engineers do you plan on hiring to prevent bad behavior without error?

There's no reason for there to be "millions on apps on the Play Store". Literally no reason. It's likely 99% of users would entirely be served by the top 50,000 to 100,000 apps. For the other 1%, there is sideloading.

As far as how many app reviewers to hire? Well, Apple manages their store pretty well. Google has about eleventy billion dollars in cash, so I'm sure they could afford to hire a few people to do the job.

If you want absolutely no competition, guild style selection, and losing people enmasse when it inevitably lacks a killer app sure - and don't mind losing money over time instead of gaining it - inflow vs outflow is what matters not cash reserves.

This is Google. If you want human-curated go to Yahoo!

We all know how that ended :)

The problem and solution are one and the same. Google is trying to automate tasks that are nowhere near ready for automation.

This doesn't even really make any sense either. You might argue its because they're huge, but the numbers don't add up. Google netted about $31 billion in 2018. It's hard to tell exactly how many apps are published on Google Play per year, but it seems to be in the ballpark of 200,000 [1]. Let's hire some low wage employees to spend just 1 hour per app which is generally enough time to determine if an app is at all legitimate. That's obviously 200,000 man hours. Creating these jobs in the USA could be done for about $10/hour, or $2 million, or a minuscule fraction of 1% of their their annual net income. Problem solved, happy customers, happy developers, jobs created.

But Google gonna Google. Though even here if they really wanted to Google, they could even hire these guys in e.g. India or wherever and pay a fraction of even that fraction of what they'd have to pay if they created these jobs in the US. But I'm certain they've Googled that the $ cost of pissed off customers and developers is less than the $ cost of providing a decent solution.

The one confounding issue here might be that the 200k is lowballing the number of apps. After all that's only the apps that are published, not the ones that are refused publication. But all of the above holds true even if you push it up to 2,000,000 apps trying to publish per year. Perhaps the more salient point is that Google also charges $25 before you can even try to publish an app. Why not direct that money to a human being and actually have a half decent review process? That same human being might even be able to answer complex questions like, "Hey, I don't even have any ads in my app. Why was my app removed for deceptive ads?" in a timely fashion.

[1] - https://www.statista.com/statistics/266210/number-of-availab...

This just isn't solvable with "low wage employees".

If their task devolves to "run this security tool" then (a) that can be automated and (b) can be reverse engineered by the people putting this out.

If it is a proper security audit then it's not an hour of work and it's not a $10/h employee, even in India.

> It's hard to tell exactly how many apps are published on Google Play per year, but it seems to be in the ballpark of 200,000 [1]

You'd have to audit literally every version update.

Apple doesn't automate it and it's difficult to make a case that it's better. They've certainly made errors and bad decisions. So... I'm not sure automation is to blame.

What's more, you could make an argument that any process will have an observable error rate at scale. Would we be having a different conversation in a different universe where this same post exists, but Google didn't automate? I'm not so sure.

> Creating these jobs in the USA could be done for about $10/hour,

Uh, minimum wage is $15 in most places. $10/hr isn't even above the poverty line. It's less than $20k a year pre-tax. If you're appropriating the language of socialism, at least do it in a way that doesn't fall apart to someone with mental math skills.

> Uh, minimum wage is $15 in most places

No, it definitely is not: https://www.paycor.com/resource-center/minimum-wage-by-state...

You're right. Not sure what I was thinking when I wrote that.

But the rest stands, you're not going to be able to source that work. We already have seen how moderation ends up being done because it's essentially awful work prone to abuse. This is why Americans like to pretend it's done by algorithms while it's actually done by people in Filipino cybercafes.

And it's not even remotely clear to me that that'll do better than Apple does with more trained staff.

- The United States is not California. Here [1] are the US poverty lines. For 1 person, it's $12,490.

- $20,800 a year puts you ahead of 26% of earners in the US. [2]

- The guy making your $5 latte gets on average about $9/hour [3].

- A private company engaging in behavior to create jobs and offer increased value to their customers is not the "language of socialism."

[1] - https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines

[2] - https://dqydj.com/united-states-income-brackets-percentiles/

[3] - https://www.glassdoor.com/Hourly-Pay/Starbucks-Hourly-Pay-E2...

Firstly, you suggested:

> Let's hire some low wage employees to spend just 1 hour per app which is generally enough time to determine if an app is at all legitimate. That's obviously 200,000 man hours.

But folks have already been down this road, and the ugly fact is that you can't source folks to do work like this outside of metropolitan areas. This is why already this work is outsourced to areas where low wages are common but infrastructure is present.

And you'll find, as several businesses I've worked with, that the difficulty of validating these jobs is very high. Turns out, you essentially get half the work you'd think you would.


> The United States is not California. Here [1] are the US poverty lines. For 1 person, it's $12,490.

Sorry, I just assumed an average family of three with a single wage earner as the default, which is like $20.5k for most guidelines I've read. [0]

> - A private company engaging in behavior to create jobs and offer increased value to their customers is not the "language of socialism."

It absolutely is, and its historical success in America is exactly why capitalists have adopted it as a talking point even when it's not actually their goal in any scenario.

[0]: I googled https://q1medicare.com/q1group/MedicareAdvantagePartD/Blog.p... before I wrote my post.

It’s a slippery slope for me, personally. I’ve been working in security quite some time, before that I’ve been in support and Helpdesk. (To give a little background on my anecdotal experience)

The sheer number of people who got infected with mal- and adware is disturbing and they demanded and believed that their provider or the device OEM is to be held responsible.

That’s not my evaluation of the situation, but the entry barrier for the web and its possibilities is very low, while the damage which can be done is pretty critical sometimes.

I personally don’t see any “everyone is pleased” solution, it’s a bit frustrating that the more tech-savvy folk is getting punished for straight out ignorance of the vast majority.

> It seems like a business where you make everyone mad no matter what you do.

Maybe you can spent some of your gazillion dollars to hire humans instead of relying on automated half-measures

sounds like a great time to make it a matter of legal compliance; that way, they can always blame the government for how it's done.

No you can't sue them. Nobody has a right to publish apps on Google Play. They can be as arbitrary or incompetent as they like in what they do. As long as they aren't violating some protected class criteria, there's not much a court is going to do.

Google hasn't taken away anything. There is still a web and you're free to deploy what you want there on your terms.

(Edits to correct Google's autocorrect errors.)

We can't sue them today, but we can write the laws under which they get sued tomorrow for pulling something like this - and that's the purpose of these conversations.

Mostly it's just tweaking our existing monopoly laws to be a bit less blind.


You CAN sue them, but for what is unclear. "Wielding too much power" isn't a crime.

And even if you could find a legitimate reason, you are unlikely to win. I would assume Google Play's Terms of Service has several clauses, including indemnity, arbitration, and agreement that Google can remove your app at anytime for any reason.

Any of those should be sufficient to have the suit summarily dimissed.

That may be true for the US - I don't know US law well enough to say anything there. In large parts of Europe, however, there are very generic rules about what constitute fair contracts and some terms like forced arbitration may not be valid there.

At the very least, it should be easier to involve lawyers and not get totally ignored by the other party. It's never pretty, but at least it is possible.

> You CAN sue them, but for what is unclear. "Wielding too much power" isn't a crime.

Criminal statutes don't apply to an individual's remedy here. You can sue for damages, but, yes, "wielding power" is not evidence of damages.

However, the power being wielded could be evidence in an anti-trust suit brought by the government.

The Play Store does lots of interesting and innovative stuff in the space of automated tests to detect malware. But clearly there's a lot of room for improvement.

Simply because the ToS says that, it doesn't mean it's a fair contract. Whether you win would depend on the jurisdiction.

And resources at your disposal.

It would be a civil case, not a criminal one, and it would be on the basis that they caused you a financial loss and a loss of reputation.

The main issue IMHO is not so much whether that would be possible but the fact that they have infinite financial resources while you and I probably have very little money to throw at legal costs. So we're screwed.

Didn't they take away the level playing field when they created the playing field?

They built a nice new field with a wall around it and guards at the gates. The old open field with all the weeds and litter is still there.

Googles field is also full of weeds, and litter.

And it's guards are fairly inept.

But it’s the field everyone plays on. What are you going to do. Play by yourself?

I'm not sure how that's relevant to the point that Google Play is full of malware.

So your complaint is that Google produced a better product? Or are you implying that Google is poisoning all other ecosystems?

Your argue would not stand a chance in court. If a shoppingmall allows sellers to sell products in their shopping mall and suddenly the shoppingmall would dispel certain sellers resulting into a dispute then the normal us law system will apply.

A shopping mall has opportunity costs (limited availability of space, location, infrastructure needs) that computer based "malls" don't.

It's real easy to contrive clever little gotchas in fluffy language talking about "playing fields" but what is it that you think they've done?

Even accepting your premise that there is no longer a "level playing field", there's no legal reason to expect Google to help you publish your app anyway. Hence they have not taken or vioated any rights you think you have.

When there are free and open source alternatives like fdroid, I don't see how the law could force Google to host an app that they don't want to. Google only gatekeeps what they host, not what exists on the platform.

I do think there is a case here against apple because they do gatekeep what the user has access to, but people love to fine Google way more than they do apple, even tough apple is infinitely more anticompetitive and anticonsumer IMO.

How is Apple anti-competitive in terms of iOS? They onbly supply iOS to themselves and the App Store is only available to Apple products.

You could argue that they take advantage of the desire of app developers to access their market, but that's not "anticompetitive". It's unfair, but life wasn't meant to be fair.

Google has been fined before for optionally bundling free apps with Android. How is that anticompetitive when apple forcibly bundles thier software and ecosystem with thier hardware?

IANAL but I think it's an unfortunate result of how the antitrust laws work. Because Google provides a free OS and works with partners to make handsets, etc, they fall under extreme scrutiny. But apple doubles down on being a walled garden where you must use only thier hardware, software, and app platform. Because they don't have any partners like Google does, there's no interactions that apple has that can be taken as anticompetitive, even though the way they force thier users into thier ecosystem is very anticompetitive imo.

> Can we sue Google when they do things like this? No single entity should wield this much power.

Of course you can. This is America and anybody can sue anybody for anything (with few exceptions).

Winning the suit is another matter. Unless you have smoking-gun evidence of discrimination or some such, I'd say the case would be DOA.

Of course, the costs of the suit would likely be prohibitive as well. I don't think that many lawyers would take a case like this on contingency. Maybe pro bono.

This is why class action lawsuits exist.

If Mozilla folks weren't so inflexible, we could have had writable local file access long time ago (Google was pushing that actually), making PWAs with WebAssembly viable desktop app replacements, rendering walled gardens useless. Yet here we are when a heuristics in a bot causes false positives with far reaching consequences and customer support is ran as an automated joke as well, making innocent victims helpless.

Can you elaborate / link me to more info on this? I'm curious about this WebAssembly-PWA-everywhere land I don't live in.

I was wondering if there is any legal recourse for a situation where:

1. I create a business that operates inside a marketplace that you own. 2. We have an agreement that says you will allow me to operate as long as I don't violate your terms of service. 3. I am kicked out of the marketplace but did not violate the TOS.

If there was a line in the agreement that the either party could terminate the agreement at anytime for any reason, I guess the TOS doesn't really matter. But is that what exists right now in these app stores?

> And there would probably be better privacy in the world where Mozilla won instead of Google.

In that world Mozilla wouldn't sell your data to Pocket or Stranger Things or whoever knows a bizdev at Mozilla?

Pocket isn’t the same as stranger things since, iirc, Mozilla bought pocket.

Yes, they've bought Pocket and the recommendation system is built in a way that your data isn't sent to Mozilla but processed on the device. Quite a cool idea IMO and what we should be doing.

Pocket belongs to Mozilla FYI.

>No single entity should wield this much power. And we should rewrite the laws to make this so.

No single entity, except the laws of course ;)

Small difference between a big for-profit and an elected government...

OP doesn't like single entities having so much power, so OP increases the power of a single entity.

Google et al. might want to take heed anyway. This all reminds me of a quote I love from the Dark Knight movie: "You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation, they turned to a man they didn't fully understand."

Yeah, I don't think that taking policy advice from movie quotes is a good idea...

So far, the law has been doing everything it can to make these problems worse.

The DMCA outsourced due process for copyright infringement.

SOSTA did it for illegal advertising (really, for policing morals, in general, but even the title of the bill agrees it was outsourcing sex trafficking law enforcement to private entities).

The CLOUD act did it for illegal domestic searches and also foreign espionage.

Caveat emptor — the big internet companies that lobbied so hard for these bills (or built businesses on them) got some short term platform lock-in, but they also guaranteed that their business models would be morally reprehensible moving forward.

We’re starting to see the fall out with Facebook, but they are not the only bad actor in this space.

> The DMCA outsourced due process for copyright infringement.

No, it didn't. What it did was protect online service providers from liability for either hosting or removing allegedly infringing content if they took certain action when notified of potential problems from either side (to the extent the results seem asymmetrical, it's because the pre-existing legal risk was asymmetrical.)

> SOSTA did it for illegal advertising

SESTA/FOSTA was kind of the opposite of DMCA; instead of creating a safe harbor that protected firms from existential risks that were starting to drive them out of hosting user content, it creates new holes on an existing safe harbor and drove providers out of carrying broad categories of user content around the area legally targetted.

Regarding the DMCA, I think you need to insert the word "intended" in there, in order to make it a try statement. The DMCA was intended to provide those protections... It has become a channel for baseless abuse.

Most of the "baseless abuse" actually isn't DMCA, it's abuse of systems that services like YouTube set up to make it easy for copyright holders to submit takedowns without going through DMCA.

I totally agree. I think people have a lot of status quo bias though so will argue that 2 corporations controlling all apps on mobile devices is actually a good thing.

If that had never come to be and it was decentralized instead, no one would be lamenting that corporations weren't in charge.

For example, few people think it would have been good if a corporation had beat out the WWW.

On a side note, it's important to appreciate where companies didn't win and not take it for granted: online encyclopedia, email, many programming languages, anything where an open-source solution won.

You know Apple initially wanted to make web “apps” a thing, you can still save html apps direct to home screen and run them offline to this day.

That was an excuse to have something on ship day because their iOS native API wasn't ready for public release.

I thought it was more to reduce their effort:

* providing infrastructure for the store etc.

* worrying about sand-boxing arbitrary native code (instead just needing to concentrate on work separating the one app, the browser, from everything else)

* maintaining a public API instead of one they can change at a whim without backlash because only they use it

I don't think they quite saw the scale of the revenue stream potential of the App Store at the time, IMO people give Apple too much credit for that.

There was a big push from developers for native apps because:

* the web APIs were not particularly ready at the time (arguably some things still aren't now)

* a combination of lower CPU power than we have become used to in more recent years, and JS & layout engines not optimising as well as they do now, meant that there was a more significant difference in performance between web-app & native, particularly for games

I don't think they ever intended for there to be a public release until jailbreaks became a thing.

Imagine you started a really cool walled garden, invited everybody over, and they all enjoy it. Then you kick out a few trolls, and one of them thinks that the government should come in and forcibly allow the trolls back in.

It's my garden, my choice. You are still allowed to publish your app on the web.

Except its more of "and then you kick out anyone in the offenders social network including former coworkers" and "trolls" include "people who put the wrong credit card down" and "You" is a machine learning system with apparently minimum oversite. :-/

If you then proceed to wall all the surroundings as well and basically build a feudal fiefdom I'd say it's time for a revolution. When you become big enough to be the system you lose the priviledges of being part of the system.

If you kicked out African Americans would you say it's your garden, your choice?

No because discrimination based on color is forbidden by the law. Discrimination on clearly set rules by the company that are not against fundamental laws is allowed. Also, your analogy is way off the mark. Comparing throwing of an app to racial discrimination weakens the very point you're trying to make.

> Discrimination on clearly set rules by the company that are not against fundamental laws is allowed.

Unless (in the EU) the company holds a significant market position, which Google does. In that moment they become subject to antitrust and monopoly laws, and can’t choose with whom to do business anymore.

The HN bubble is real. At this scale it's hard to make everyone happy. Go have fun with your negativity.

Yes. In a perfect society, one would be free to invite whomever one wants to one's walled garden party without fear that a mob would form to lynch you because your walled garden party does not have a trans-species potatokin.

Comparing discrimination against a protected class of person (in this case, race) to commercial discrimination which is subject to the laws of fair competition and monopoly is irrelevant to the discussion.

Monopolies are subject to restrictions on their operation specifically to protect competition. Unfortunately, around the world over the past 30 years, monopoly regulation has been sadly lacking, except in the EU.

Google could be judged as a monopoly provider of operating system and application services to mobile phone manufacturers. Apple supplies iOS only to its own hardware.

As such, google could be restrained but only in terms of how it deals with the phone manufacturers, not their customers.

Not a lawyer, but anti-trust could apply.

Before going down that road, before asking if all the legal conditions are met, the starting point is that you have to show harm to consumers. My experience of $200 in fraudulent credit card charges and apps that change to malware on a minor update suggest that this is in the interest of consumers. There's a neverending supply of bad actors in this line of business.

No it can't, Google isn't the only "App Store" in town, and you are not forced to use them, so it in no way could apply.

Google is (by far) the dominant supplier of android apps, so it very much applies. We can debate this forever, the only thing that will prove it either way is a legal ruling - and I hope that happens soon, and results in a modernisation of competition law.

But Android is not a technological monopoly, and Google has not monopolized all Android apps. You might have low standards for the application of anti-trust laws, but the government does not.

The EU has already ruled on exactly this.

The EU is much more neo-liberal than the U.S., and as a Libertarian, I'll wait and see what I trust is a more "valid" ruling — the opinion of a U.S. federal judge. If he/she rules a monopoly, and their opinion stands, I'll come back and give you kudos — alas, I don't think it will happen.

i agree. definitely not going to happen yet.

"Could apply", and "likely to win in court" are two VERY different arguments.

> We need similar laws to protect startups, small businesses, and sole proprietors

Yeah, because laws protecting inefficient business are great for society and consumers.

No business "deserves" protection. Consumers do, but not business.

App stores are monopolies, and their governance leaves much to be desired (as is the subject of this article).

I'm fine paying the AWS tax. It's a generic utility more or less and I can just as easily use Azure or Google (assuming you're not baked into certain offerings, but that's out of scope and honestly is a choice.)

If you want on Android there's no choice. You play by Google's rules and pay their tax.

People get up in arms when ISPs try to pull this (net neutrality). This is the same pattern. Phones, OSes, etc. should be "dumb" pipes. (The analogy isn't elegant here, but you get it.)

So do you feel the same way about console makers? Every game that ships for any console has to be approved by the console maker - including physical media. It’s been that way since the 80s.

100% feel this way about console games. That something was that way in the 80s, doesn't mean it's the correct behaviour in the present.

> App stores are monopolies

That is a huge claim, thrown around by you with no backing. You could get a few economists to discuss that for ages without reaching a conclusion.

Unless you're talking about the layman's definition of monopoly, which means "whatever I want it to mean".

This is particularly relevant when there's the Amazon app store, and app preloads, and the Korean app store, and Fortnite isn't available on the Play store.

And that's before we get into the fact that iOS competes with Android, and that includes the app stores. This would be like complaining that to get a product to be sold by Walmart, you need to get Walmart to sell it.

No matter how you look at it, consumers never had so many choices, prices have never been this low, and app distribution has never been so easy.

Is the market the common market, or is the android market? Is the commodity mobile apps, or android apps?

Google have absolute monopoly of android apps in the common market, and a monopoly of mobile apps in the android market.

The EU already ruled this http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4581_en.htm

I really don't understand app-store apologists. Its abuse of dominance, plain and simple.

You also don't seem to understand economics. It isn't plain and simple, things are far more complex than that.

And if you read the EU decision, you'll notice that they're assuming that Android doesn't compete with iOS...

> Google is dominant in the markets for ... app stores for the Android mobile operating system.

Did you even read my comment? It's literally exactly what I said. I gave two examples of a market and two of a commodity. Maybe you need to go read what a monopoly is instead of assuming others don't know what they are talking about (both me, and the EU, clearly)

Which is like saying that Subaru is dominant in the market for new cars sold at Subaru dealerships.

That completely ignores the fact that there is intense competition for developers and users between Android and iOS, and renders the point moot.

Sure, you can always define an arbitrary market for which a company will have dominance, but that's irrelevant from an economics perspective.

Maybe you should go read on what a monopoly actually is...

Here's a good interview with the economist who taught me what a monopoly is:


Will be a good point for you to start.

EU ruled on it. You are wrong. Maybe you need to go read some actual law instead of hbr...

The market is the common market, the commodity is android apps. Just like I said, just like the EU said. As for defining "arbitrary markets", I am not the one who described the appstore as a 'market' - that was google.

Go try your inflated ego elsewhere, i'll just call you out on your BS.

> EU ruled on it. You are wrong.

Oh, you mean that if politicians pass a law saying the sky is red, then it stops being blue?

Seriously, if the EU "rules" that gravity doesn't exist, then it suddenly stops existing?

Don't be angry because you don't understand the subject...

We've warned you many times about incivility in your comments here. You've ignored our requests and continued to break the guidelines frequently. That's not ok, so I've banned your account.

If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.

You can sue Google whenever you like. If you can afford it.

This is just another example of how crappy Google's customer sevice is. News flash, monopolies always have crappy customer service, duopolies and oligopolies are almost as bad.

Phone OSes and app stores are a duopoly, Google and Apple are the only games in town, what the US needs to do is look at its antitrust and pro competition laws, figure out if they make sense for the information age and then apply them.

This might be happening in the very early stages now, when Trump appointed Rohit Chopra as an FTC Commissioner last year one of Chopra's first moves was to hire Lina Khan, an antitrust academic who is critical of the FAANG companies and has clashed with Google very publicly. I can only think of one reason the FTC would hire Khan, to find reasons for going after the tech giants.


Couldn't access it. Found Web Archive link[0].

Mistaken identity for an app with the same name (it seems). More specifically, it seems like someone at Google was looking to disable the app, yours was the first to return in their search, so that must've been it. You'd think there'd be correlatable identifiers to specifically prevent this?

[0] - https://web.archive.org/web/20190325230133/https://www.purpl...

Funny that their internal tool wouldn't have a workflow that kept the app id. Googlers doing error prone swivel chair correlation is kind of sad.

Sorry about the error. I noticed and flicked the "enable https" shortly after posting. I flicked it off again for now.

I am still experiencing an error in FF65 (Secure connection failed)

Perhaps you need to disable HTTPS Everywhere — the link in this post is HTTP, not HTTPS.

I have HTTPS Everywhere and didn't have any problems accessing the link (it loaded over cleartext HTTP as intended).

I am running Firefox Developer Edition 67.0b4 and did not have this issue. I noticed that you are using Firefox 65. Maybe updating to Firefox 66.0.1 (current version) would resolve this?

I'm guessing it is actually a https thing. Do you have that on? Because I am currently on a FF66 (different computer) and having the same error. But given the error it looks more to be because there is no https version of the site.

Which I'm fine with. If you don't have https I don't need to go to your site.

A news site or blog needs to be https for you to visit for what reason? Is it ideology? Fear of network neighbours spying?

Probably fear of content injection (eg a third party on shared wifi injecting a pdf with a zero day exploit, or just some malicious Javascript).

More of a principle thing. SSL is easy to enable and the whole web should be encrypted. I fully support all the major browsers' decision to warn users about sites that aren't https (even without login). It doesn't feel like there's a good excuse to not have https enabled.

From the blog comments:

> Good luck man. I had an app removed because someone did a review of it and their review had screenshots of my app and Google banned the app for copyright infringement siting them as the source. No appeal, one strike, never got through to a human.

If true that’s laughablly insane.

Had similar experience. Several years ago app with 6+ digit installs in the first six months. Got some generic excuse and our app was down. We could contest but then they threatened to take even more away.

I don't like these platforms...

What's sad is the apps that do need to be removed (ie asking for way more permissions) never do, and the ones just trying to get into the ecosystem get punished for automated incompetence. The cutesy act of Google is really getting old. I rather just do progressive web apps as they become more common and not worry about their crappy app store.

automated incompetence

I'm going to start using this term.

Google is truly the worlds leader in AI*

* Artificial Incompetence

Exactly. Our app only had a few permissions, the ones needed for functionality. We only collected enough data to make sure we understood how people were using the app. I mean it was created to learn android - we didn't have huge goals, let alone nefarious ones. Yet AL this other junk goes right by.

Fuck Google. Idc anymore - fuck them. They rose to the top on the promise of "were different!" And "don't be evil". It's probably our own fault for trusting them but at this point if a competitor came out I'd jump at the chance to move to them and hasten Googles death.

I would suspect that some of those apps are being removed. But they are cockroaches. Google can crush one of them but there are 100 more right behind it. The scammers response to automated moderation is automated submission.

That's so perfect. Never thought of the word feudal ism specifically but it fits.

Were helpless. These companies run the world. Regulation needs to happen and I HATE regulation. But at this point Wed only be regulating like a dozen entities while giving citizens more freedom.

I love this term, thank you! It is so fitting.

This is precisely why EU antitrust strikes against Google are well deserved. I hope they are hit with much more.

Well deserved for the EU, not the programmer? Not really. Suppose the programmer could have sued, though.

Seems this will be our future. A lot of systems will be massive, automated and do mostly the right thing. But to cut cost there will be no way to fix errors so if you get caught up in such a situation you are just sorry, out of luck.

Why so nihilistic? Systems are like that because people designed them this way. If it takes regulations to fix that problem, I'm all for it.


Please don't post unsubstantive comments here.

You are not funny.

This sounds like a good story line for an episode of BlackMirror.

Kafkaesque, with a modern twist

I had similar issue, but, I was able to re-upload the app. App contained logo of my company, which was flagged as copyrighted material (with copyrights belonging to my company, but when Google cared).

Google banned me for deceptive ads. I converted the app. to Objective-C and made it into iTunes with no issues.

Apple isn't any better. They arbitrarily ban apps too.

Well they seem to be slightly better with humans instead of bots, but yeah both stores seem to be awful.


You, still using google for anything, is insane. OK, harsh word, but really, your behaviour is modified by the search results/ads/suggestions you see. Every search you do, leans you to continue using Google in the future, and looking at the web through their eyes.

True. Although I mostly use google for [Technical Keyword] not working with [Technical Keyword], rather than [Who should I vote for]. I actually use hn.algolia.com more often when I want an opinion on something important to me :-)

I use hn.algolia.com as a more reliable source to look for info & opinion on a lot of things a lot more than I use google.

I feel like there ought to be a google competitor now that google is so crappy.

With all their efforts to block copyrighted stuff their engine has really gone downhill I swear, and this was years ago. I hardly ever find anything I'm looking for, that or we've hit a stage on the internet where people don't ask any questions on Stack Overflow and just google and monkey patch it all together.

A lot of the stack overflow questions are moved to domain specific slack/discord/spectrumapp communities. Effectively making them harder to search, more gated and incrowdy than regular websites

Another invaluable reason for IRC log bots. Maybe we need Discord logbots too? I am no fan of Slack for open source projects / free communities though.

> I feel like there ought to be a google competitor now that google is so crappy.

I switched to DDG on my phone and it’s good. Recommend it.

I’ve been using DDG full time everywhere for a year and it was really good but has become pretty bad in the last few months. I begrudgingly have to open Google more and more. Not sure what is up.

Yup, it keeps treating all search terms as optional. My searches all "look" "like" "this" now, and it still omits stuff. Infuriating. Respect my search query.

DDG isn't a competitor, it's a meta search engine, that just uses Google and Bing under the hood.

The history of search engines is more complicated than most people realize. There's nothing weird about a search site using a different engine than you expect. Someday it could use different ones, or someday it may deploy its own.

I think other than Google that pretty much every site has had engines change over the years. IIRC Microsoft had a search site before Bing, for instance, and IIRC AltaVista changed search engine quite often as it struggled to retain relevance. In general, it's not really the engines that people are upset about, it's the parasitic stuff attached to it at the gate entrance.

Also I'm pretty sure it doesn't use Google. Last I knew Bing is used.

That’s not true?

Bubbling (something Google does intentionally to make the user experience better) is a much different and much less serious problem than the fact that Google offers inadequate customer support and has a heavy-handed banning policy

I'm not convinced it's less serious. Google's bad behaviour is serious precisely because it has total control of the memetic environment. I've never had a problem with Google that would have required customer support, but I am conscious that I make dozens of Google searches a day, and that my view of the web is exactly what Google wants my view of the web to be. That scares me more than the customer service I've never gotten.

> and that my view of the web is exactly what Google wants my view of the web to be

How so? As far as I know, the bubbling is based on your input only, not Google's. So their desires as a company are not involved in what you see.

"Bubbling" per se is essentially defined as that portion of Google's ranking algorithm that incorporates its opinion of you. The rest of it, the generic part of Google's algorithm, can and does reflect Google's desires as a company. The EU even fined them billions for it (specifically, for promoting Google Shopping over competing comparison services).

> "Bubbling" per se is essentially defined as that portion of Google's ranking algorithm that incorporates its opinion of you.

It's about incorporating Google's opinion of what you want to see, but you seemed to be implying that it is about incorporating Google's opinion of what you ought to see. I think that is somewhat misleading.

> The rest of it, the generic part of Google's algorithm, can and does reflect Google's desires as a company.

True, but what does that have to do with bubbling? Any sufficiently advanced search technology will have that problem whether it uses bubbling or not.

Use DuckDuckGo.

It's feudalism, because you don't have a choice.

You have a choice, the choices are just worse.

I tried using DDG for a long time, but it's just _terrible_ for technical queries.

Not as good as google, but it still makes sense to make it (or something else) your default search engine for those 99% of times it actually works just fine.

But it doesn't work fine 99%. I tried to find a short story I read awhile ago, so I DDG'ed for "Berryman Parrot".

DDG helpfully suggests a bunch of unrelated videos - a Coldplay video, a Tyler, The Creator sketch from the Eric Andrew show, and something about a C-line fencing tool. The actual search results are vaguely related, since the first one is a youtube video about birds with someone named Berryman in the description. The next one is a bird rescue, and the third appears to be some sort of etsy shop.

Compare to Google. The first result is the Wikipedia entry for the exact story I was searching for. The second result is the full published story. The third is a related story set in the same universe. Google then shows me some image results, and bam, the second one is actually related to the short story!

Sorry, DDG. You just don't cut it for my needs.

Usually if there’s a Wikipedia article for a phrase it’s among the first hits for me.

I use DDG as my main engine and I find that to be true. Unfortunately even Google's become pretty bad, I never know when it's going to ignore one word of my two-word query.

I often find DDG will even ignore quoted terms altogether. It was really good for a while, but it has gone downhill and now I need to open Google a few times a day.

I can replaces search, i use DDG as default, I have simple shortcut to google.

But I use gmail, google docs, Android with many google integrations. I could find alternatives, but really not as good. And mostly it would be just another company, where I'm not sure I can trust either.

Local and self-hosted options are just really not good enough. For example in MS Excel, I can't load actual currency tickers, or share it simply.

I also use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter. If I don't I'll just have no voice.

I have my own web, but nobody goes there.

Open Internet is gone for me.

How is that any different than literally any other way of discovering information?

I no longer find interesting things in the top results like 10 years ago. Some search terms only return about 100 results when there should be many more.

Academic websites seem to have nearly vanished from the results.

Perhaps the results get better if you pay Google by allowing them cookies, but I think that wasn't necessary 10 years ago either.

So the difference is that in a non-biased library you find many more and interesting sources.

Or when the first result says

> "missing {keyword}, require {keyword}?"

Great job big G, I'm definitely the one who made the mistake with my query and didn't want to include that word.

You haven't, but many people do; they include extraneous words, or write overly precise queries (like including specific their specific laptop model number, which only sells in our small country, rather than a general model name), then get frustrated they can't find anything.

What are the guys at Google getting paid for other than building a system which can intelligently apply those exclusion filters?

My two word query should not have one of it's words excluded.


If the typical user is asking conversational questions, the search models need a layer of NLP preprocessing, which should likewise be conditional.

My point is that there's no such thing as a non-biased library. You always see things under some influence of the process you used to find them. It's fine to prefer other sources than Google, but it's not "insane" to use Google because it will do something that is inescapable anyway.

Google has an interest into generally narrowing your results so it's easier to shove you through their hoops (advertisers, etc) and this behavior is becoming more common and a frustrating experience for me as well.

One thing I hate a lot about Google - and I am not sure why they do it - I can't even sum it up in a word or sentence. Basically you search for something, and it returns (supposedly) 10,000 matches, and 100 pages to go thru (or whatnot). You look at the first page, check a few, then move to the second page. Suddenly, the number of pages drops in half or more. Within a few more pages, things narrow down to 5 pages or less, with the last page having only 2-3 links.

I don't understand this "narrowing". I want to see every single damn result, I want to go to the "last page" and see those weird and obscure results. But nope, not any more.

They do a similar thing with image search; you search for something that you know has tens of thousands of images (ie - cats), but you are limited to maybe a total of 1000 or fewer images (show more results...show more results...END).

One last thing that occurs - and I am not sure how this is done; I don't think it is google - but how is it that I can do a lookup for something, and then in google's search results there will be exact matches for that something being searched for, but if you go to those links, invariably they forward you to some kind of spammy or worse "content" (usually doing nothing for me, because they assume everyone is using Windows - so they drop a link for a file that's an executable .EXE - yeah, sure).

It is almost like sites are (somehow) generating search results on the fly for google based on your keywords, but that can't be possible (?) because that isn't how google does indexing (that wouldn't even work or be efficient). So I don't know how it is that sites have my exact keyword matches (unless due to sheer numbers, my searches aren't that unique - but I do often search for very obscure stuff, and even those things pop up).


If you're a mobile app developer, what choice do you have?

On Android you can easily sideload apps. So there is a choice.

I understand that 90% of people get their apps exclusively from the Play Store but that is not because Google is evil. Its because people prefer one store were they can find everything: the supermarket model.

And not just the consumers, but it would seem the producers too.

By choice, I do not have a Play Store account and wherever possible install apps only from F-Droid. However, there are (rare) times where I want to install a free (as in beer) closed source app. However, the publisher only chooses to make the app available via the Play Store. I would really, really like a direct apk download. I appreciate this approach is not for every end user and some people are scared of the "warning" messages Android displays when installing apps directly. Nonetheless, it would be really nice to have the choice and I don't see it as so much extra effort on the publisher's side.

Absolutely. If developers don't want one app store to dominate the marketplace they have to publish in multiple places. Otherwise what can they expect is going to happen? Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

My previous employer made it a condition of their BYOD mobile policy that I wouldn’t side load apps onto my device.

So even though it’s technically possible, it’s not always a going to happen.

There’s also side loading as a malware vector. If you do side load, you need to remember to turn off non-AppStore access immediately after.

"On Android you can easily sideload apps. So there is a choice."

If you develop apps to make money as a business this is not realistic. If the user can only side load your apps you probably have shrunken your potential customer base by 95%.

Managing app update becomes a problem outside Play store.

I've been using DuckDuckGo for about a year now and I've not noticed the difference. Stack Overflow, MDN are common search results while the occasional blog post also find its way into the result..

Does DuckDuckGo operate an app store that reaches most of mobile users worldwide? Why are you talking about the search engine?

> Why are you talking about the search engine?

Because the grandparent comment was about the search engine.

Try not being a mobile app developer? A bit less snarky:

- Develop mobile apps for a company rather than sell your own on Play/App store. - Develop non-mobile apps. - Not-app programming (business automation, infra, embedded, etc). - Get out of programming entirely.

This is basically the same message for all the other displaced/disrupted jobs (coal miners, bank clerks, lift operators, cashiers). Nobody owes anybody a livelihood for a fairly narrow/specific field. Especially not in "mobile app development" which 10 years ago was close to non-existent as as job title.

Publishing on the web or iOS is always a choice.

It's pretty much the same issue on iOS, we only have two crappy (and poorly managed) walled garden in the mobile world.

If you want to lose most of your audience, sure.

The automated response systems will eventually end up like this:


There is definitely something missing from this story; app reviews including a screenshot are nothing new, nor is it infringement. And it would hurt their ecosystem to act like this, so, I seriously doubt this at face value.

A theory- the app itself had infringing material, and the person who reported/banned it found that material via the review.

Since so little thought seems to have been put in the approval process, can't you just re-submit the same app under a different name or using a different account?

That road leads to permaban from all of Google.

That's something you should be able to sue over (false representation)

Its absolutely the sane result you get with an unregulated monopoly.

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