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I wonder if it's been on purpose or just, as always, their automatic algorithms being imposible to contest when they're wrong.

Honestly, Google's (and general tech giants') willingness to let people's lives be caught in the cracks of their algorithms in their pursue for scalability scares me more than any ideology they could push.

More and more, we're seeing developers and content creators being banned or demonetised, people being shadowbanned from dating apps that represent a majority of your chances to find a significant other, and so on.

I think we need legislation to deal with these issues: people subjected to punishment should be able to know the rules they're being subjected to, the way they supposedly broke those laws, and have a non automated chance to contest the ruling. Even if these businesses aren't public property, when they represent an almost monopolistic chance to get the service they provided they should be treated as if they are.

Google is famous for this type of attrition damage tactic. Read this: https://twitter.com/johnath/status/1116871231792455686

It goes like this: Google bans or disables something, then they pretend they made a mistake, but still delay fixing it for days or weeks while giving amateurish explanations for these delays. In the end what this tactic achieves, is hampering a software Google disapproves (or competes against). The tired users switches to a different software (made by google?) or stop using the software altogether. The same tactic targets competing developers.

This sort of evil behavior doesn't require intent or actual malice to form.

All it requires is that panic efforts to fix things be primarily allocated to problems that hurt google and not primarily allocated to things that hurt google's opponents. Or for infrastructure that has a history of hurting google to get disabled while infrastructure that has a history of hurting others gets ignored in favor of spending more time on new projects or fixing things that hurt google.

IMO characterizing it as involving malice ('pretend') actually _understates_ the problem. Google's actions are sometimes explicitly malicious, but they're even more often malicious OR indifferent, as that is a strict superset. If one day they decided to stop being actively evil this problem would not go away.

Maybe it could be reduced with the right kind of attitude towards introspecting and seeking out systemic causes of evil consequences even at their own expense. I heard there was once a company with a "don't be evil" mantra, but they abandoned it as they grew.

This also explains why the same evil conduct sometimes shows up in cases where no one can figure out any way that google actually benefits. It's a lot easier to cause harm through indifference than greed because greed requires that you have a way to benefit. Most conceivable harmful acts don't have much of a benefit for anyone.

There is no such thing as a megacorp's indifference to increasing their profits and achieving their strategic goals.

You can't plausibly claim indifference when Google's business processes that took many millions of dollars to set up and optimize promote Google's success by harming Google's competitors and taming Google's existential threats in user-hostile ways that range from perhaps subtle to outrageously obvious.

They didn't start doing this yesterday. No amount of plausible deniability can cover a gaping void this large.

Google's behaviour is entirely consistent with a huge company exercising its monopolistic power in a largely unregulated environment. They do whatever they can get away with.

I see your argument, and while it is plausible, it is muddying the waters. The twitter thread I linked above is from a former Firefox vice president, not from some random person on the Internet. People at Mozilla also thought that Google is playing fair game. When they realized there was a malicious intent, it was too late.

As a former Mozilla distinguished engineer --- this is exactly right.

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”

This is why we used to have anti-trust law.

Hopefully in this case, they will switch to Firefox.

As a precaution to such tactics like, I have (long time ago) switched for Firefox Portable, which updates properly, and also backup up its folder and keep a backup of all add-ons .xpi files, (winrar for Windows has a nifty naming mechanism that you can add YYYY-MM-DD HH-MM-SS on the backup name), so if there is an update I don't like, or if after an update I am left with half my add-ons being disabled due to incompatibility, I roll back and stay there for a couple more months till either my add-ons work, or I find and alternative.

Mozilla is far more honest than Google, but better safe than sorry.

Exactly from here on out if there is a choice you dismiss the google product out of hand.

I think the community should start putting together a "how to migrate to Brave" doc.

I'm curious.. Does Brave have their extensions managed by Google?

> I wonder if it's been on purpose or just, as always, their automatic algorithms being imposible to contest when they're wrong.

Further down the github issue, another person attempts to submit the same build recieving the same response. But then asks for clarification on the applicability to uBlock only to receive an excerpt from ToC bundling advice...

Pretty sure this is not algorithmic. As the dev said they are being stone walled.

Indeed. A friend of mine used to work on YouTube's moderation team. Turns out a lot of the "algorithm" is actually humans, hiding behind the shield of automation.

This scares me a little as "it was algorithm's fault" seems to be a good excuse for tech companies to get away with their monopolistic behavior. A few years down the road and they'll blame "AI" for the misconduct.

Do you mean this post?


That's the developer relenting and trying to resubmit, after fuming at one of their users suggesting to do so. The reply they get is the same as the original reply, including the ToS (right? Not "ToC") but excluding the bit about risking being banned if the same vilation occurs multiple times. It still looks like an automated reply though.

So I thought/researched/wrote for 10+ years about possible legal frameworks and regulation for the 21st century; and in the end it seems an untenable proposition to 'force' such evolution by way of law, if we look at the actual history of most sectors — energy, construction, steel, media, telco... and now electronics and tech. I mean it's wishful thinking and whatever 'law' ends up being circumvented. Concentration is inevitable.

What does seem to 'work' is the subversion of one sub-market by another, e.g. when we transition from radio to TV, or when began the post-Facebook era. These are technological innovations. Political science taught me one thing: what changes the world is not what we think or say, it's what we do, and the most groundbreaking actions are those who create the everyday things that change our lives in dramatic ways — mobile phones, cars, planes, TV, YouTube, Netflix, Maps, chats, what-you-use.

Ergo, if we want a truly "fair" network, I think there's no other way but to make one. A real innovation that pretty much owns the market of inter-human communication, eventually. Something the magnitude of netscape/javascript at the end of the 1990s, or SMS, or Facebook versus everything else before, or streaming video and audio... a real shift in 'what you can do' or the way you do it.

If it is impossible to prevent concentration (and I don't believe it is), then oligopolists will have to accept some legal obligations that smaller companies don't have.

It is simply unacceptable that you can be kicked off extremely dominant platforms without explanation or recourse and often without even getting your data back.

There has to be a higher barrier to obliterating someone's livelihood.

I think K0SM0S is making a more "turtles all the way down" point.

In that concentration is inevitable, not exempting any possible legal framework.

So government / legal isn't a solution, only radical innovation.

Once again sci-fi proves astonishingly prescient - this kind of world was predicted as early as 1965, in Gordon Dickson's darkly humorous short story "Computers Don't Argue" (which you can find on Google if you're interested).

Being stonewalled by bureaucracy with no explanation given is nothing new.

You can shout at bureaucrats. You have some basic rights. You can demand escalation of your issue. You can't do much when your Google account is banned.

A friend of mine works as a lawyer dealing with PUC's. Trope of faceless bureaucrats pisses him off because he see it from the other side. Because they'll actually listen to some 80 year old lady's complaint at a meeting[1] and then maybe try to figure out what they can do to not piss her off.

[1] The meetings that people who rant about faceless bureaucrats never show up at.

Indeed. This feels eerily similar to my DMV experience of "which particular undocumented document did you fail to bring?"

Sounds more like the USSR than the USA

Yeah, but I can't slip the computer a bribe to make the problem go away.

Under "communism", man oppresses man. Under capitalism, it's just the opposite.

The "opposite" version of that quote makes less sense to me than "other way around" or "reverse". The opposite of "man oppresses man" would be "man doesn't oppress man", no...?

Maybe, I just googled the quote because I didn't remember it exactly. But I think it's actually clear that "man doesn't opress man" is not the intended meaning precisely because that wouldn't make sense.

Reminds me of the quote, "Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank, give a man a bank and he can rob the world"

Under post-capitalism, the automated systems serving capital oppress man?

... woman inherits the Earth?

IMHO attribuiting actions to automated systems rather than their owners hides who's actually responsible. If we don't accept abusing power we shouldn't accept abusing power using AI either.

I wouldn't be able to guarantee "capital" (i.e. people with access to large amounts of it) are smart enough to understand the outcomes of sufficiently complex systems.

I think the mortgage derivative swaps crisis taught us that. Powerful fools are still fools, and there's nothing about the system as-is that prevents some fools from becoming powerful.

In that sense, it's entirely possible we have bad outcomes from automated systems created by people who don't understand them. And that's the ambivalent case.

The actively evil case is: "How much would I have to pay you to design an unethical automated system?"

You're right, active evilness is not the only case or necessarily the bigger problem. Not knowing what you're doing doesn't mean you aren't acting unethically though when you risk others' welfare for your own gain.

But actions your automated systems are still your actions, regardless of intentions and outcomes. If we hold people responsible for negligently causing damage, we should also hold them responsible for negligently causing damage using an automated system. And of course, we should positive outcomes a system causes to the people behind it as well.

Or we could just prosecute App Store monopolies. Nobody should ever have to go through google, or apple, or Microsoft, or Facebook, or amazon to publish software. The point of software is to be portable. I’m sick of buying artificially crippled crap.

There are several problematic patterns at play here, and not all of them are store monopolies: App stores are a clear cut issue since they're a clear walled garden, but soft monopolies are even worse in my opinion. By soft monopolies I refer to those services whose utility is intrinsically tied to the number of users: youtube, social networks, messaging apps...

I'm pretty sure I can build a tinder clone with cool extra features pretty easily - barring maybe the infrastructure to support a giant number of users and the legal issues of operating internationally. But such an app would be completely useless, since the point of the app is that their userbase can easily be half the dating pool of your city. The same idea is true for many internet businesses - once established they're almost untouchable. they can't be challenged unless they screw up royally or someone's able to launch a giant enough marketing campaing that can bootstrap a large userbase in a matter of days.

Join to that the tendency towards monolithic ecosystems (google, apple, to a lesser extent microsoft, huawei...) and the result is pretty scary.

The problem is that you don't. You can earn big money maintaining COBOL software on mainframes, no FAANG there. As long as it is a choice it will be really hard to do something about it.

The goal is quality tools, not money.

I don't think that's how capitalism and commercial companies work...

Right, which is why our tools all suck.

On purpose.

When I search for "firebase vs ..." I don't get parse server, I get nonsensical rubbish that folks won't compare with firebase. like mongodb, heroku, google analytics, amplify. But if I search for "parse server v". the first suggestion is firebase. Google is pure evil, you just have to open your eyes to see all their dirty tricks.

Judge, jury, executioner, central bank, and oxygen dispensary.

These closed markets need to become open markets. Apply fair and impartial courts, jury trials, system of appeals, tort, etc.

> on purpose or just, as always, their automatic algorithms being imposible to contest when they're wrong

given how often this happens, and the money google makes off and puts into these systems, this is "not either or" but rather two flavors of "on purpose"

Article 22 of the GDPR provides protection to individuals against purely automated decision making https://gdpr-info.eu/art-22-gdpr/

It's not like Google really cares about the GDPR though. Pretty much none of their stuff complies with it.

They can afford to just pay the millionaire fines.

I'm European, and pretty happy that the GDPR exists, but even I can't deny that a law is just as strong as the ruler's capacity to enforce it, and I'm a bit sceptical about the EU's ability to effectively govern the whole internet.

This approach to algorithmic services is an ideology.

I wouldn't imagine they're impossible to challenge in cases like this. In fact I wager this post amounts to a challenge as it's nearly guaranteed a Chrome extensions developer will see it.

Not all apps have millions of users and make front page news. Now imagine how hard it is to contact anyone inside Google if your app/extension is not that popular.

With google I always assume malice unless they can prove without a shadow of a doubt that it was truly unintentional.

No dating app represents most of your chance to meet people.

I don't believe that you have a meaningful right to use a website.

Couple that with geographic constraints and I guarantee you that's true somewhere in the world.

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