Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Google is now applying its coronavirus misinformation policies to personal files (reclaimthenet.org)
297 points by walterbell 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 208 comments





This might be the relevant section in the Terms of Service:

Public streaming Drive allows you to store, share, and stream video content, but should not be used as a replacement for a content distribution network. For large-scale public streaming, YouTube is a better fit. Drive will restrict usage when it appears that it's being used for large-scale public streaming. Repeated violations may result in additional action, including terminating your account or ability to use Drive.

https://support.google.com/docs/answer/148505?visit_id=63725...


> Drive will restrict usage...

> ... including terminating your account or ability to use Drive.

I think that the controversial part is that the file was deleted. I'd find it surprising if some file from my Drive is just deleted instead of restricting public access or using another form of enforcing the policy.


Can you quote where this article says the file was deleted from Google Drive? (it doesn't, but goes to great effort to disguise this fact).

Google has no obligation to be anyone's mouthpiece or loudspeaker, and we have no information on whether any files were deleted.

The idea that a file was deleted as a first step is pretty out there. There is NO evidence of that. The usual progression is to deny streaming, then warn and close account ultimately.

Question is this a paid google storage / CDN account? That would be different. It sounds like this is bog standard gdrive.


Next step will be, "Verizon has no obligation to be anyone's loudspeaker". No one is obliged to be anything to anyone if you put it that way, but then there's this thing called discrimination that goes counter to that - it expects a VERY GOOD reason to deny service to someone. "I have no obligation to sell to blacks", for example, does not stand. "I have no obligation to hosts anyone's word when I don't agree with that they say" stands? Perhaps we should get a list of all the things we are allowed to say and stop communicating through the internet altogether, as the list will have every information we will ever need to access.

Stopping the spread of harmful misinformation is a VERY GOOD reason to deny service to someone.

Who decides what is disinformation? A politburo in Google? Some high office in the USA?

I understand if they give a safebrowsing warning that the document contains potential misinformation, like for sites with potential malware. Blocking is not the right way to solve it. Censorship is always abused, in the end.


I made the same assumption that the news contact may have been unrelated, and they just had far too many people access it.

Yep no big conspiracy here.

I don't see any evidence that Google applied a misinformation policy here. It could be that they simply don't want to pay for the bandwidth to serve video without any ads in it. It is a big file and a lot of people want it. That can get super expensive.

I don't know how big this file is, but let's say it's a 4GB DVD image. That ties up 1Gbps for 32 seconds, which means that with a 1Gbps link to your server, you can serve it to less than 3000 users a day. Even if you're getting budget residential ISP prices for your transfer, you're talking 1 cent per 10 copies of the video. At AWS prices, you're talking 36 cents for every copy of the video downloaded.

This sort of thing is why you either peer with an ISP at 10Gbps or more, charge money for file hosting, or use a p2p file sharing application.

Until I see some evidence that this is misinformation censorship (for example, Google removing a private file with a transcript of the video), I'm going to assume this is just limiting the impact on other users from a free user with a popular huge file. As HN always says, if you're not paying for something, you're not the customer.


I'm aware of at least one community that shares copyrighted videos on Google Drive, and I'm sure there's more. There's at least two ways videos get taken down.

1. If there's too much burst traffic (like when a new popular episode is released), you can see that the video exists but GDrive won't let you stream it in the browser. I can't recall if you can still download the file. There may still exist a workaround where if you copy the file to your own GDrive (and your own quota), that copy will be available to you. In any case, usually the file becomes available again when traffic dies down.

2. Accounts sometimes get removed, or at least their shared files are no longer available publicly. I assume this is from getting too many copyright strikes against them.

I would assume if the video was popular, at least #1 would have happened here. It's unclear to me from the article if anything beyond that happened. That said, it wouldn't terribly surprise me if there was some process somewhere that matches up videos banned from Youtube and restricts their availability on GDrive.


« I don't know how big this file is, but let's say it's a 4GB DVD image. »

It says they were sharing a trailer, so I'd suggest all your numbers should be scaled down by a factor of at least 100.


Does Google Drive not charge users based on data transfer? With S3 this would not be an issue, but either the uploader or the downloader (with "requester pays" buckets) would end up covering the cost.

Google Drive is a consumer product (+), not really the same use case or target market as S3. Consumers probably don't want to deal with variable charges on their card depending on how many people they shared a file with. Certainly I (as a consumer) wouldn't want to deal with a complicated price model like that.

(+) And business productivity suite product, but I think the same mostly applies there.


If you have Google Drive, you are either on a free or paid personal account, or a Google Business account which also includes Drive. I believe there is an Acceptable Use Policy for both the free and paid versions of personal and business Drive, but I am only a user of both and not an expert. I routinely use a lot of data and bandwidth on my paid Google business Drive to no ill effect, and I only pay my monthly fee, no additional/excess/egress charges. I probably upload 5-10 TB a month or so and download probably a few TB.

From a later comment on this post:

https://support.google.com/docs/answer/148505?visit_id=63725...

'Abuse program policies and enforcement

'The content policies listed below play an important role in maintaining a positive experience for everyone using Google products. We need to curb abuses that threaten our ability to provide these services, and we ask that everyone abide by the policies below to help us achieve this goal.

'These policies apply to content within Google Drive. When applying these policies, we may make exceptions based on artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific considerations, or where there are other substantial benefits to the public from not taking action on the content. Be sure to check back from time to time, as these policies may change. Please also refer to Google's Terms of Service for more information.'


If it's HEVC it would be pretty small. Also, I doubt many people would be interested in that content. Storage-space wise, it's all internally de-duplicated so identical blocks across multiple files of their users are likely stored only once + number of replicas-times. If it were frequently downloaded, CDN/caches would have made it cost-efficient as well.

Videos on Google drive are transcoded to tens of different formats for viewing, depending on the devices hardware decoders and bandwidth available.

> Also, I doubt many people would be interested in that content.

I don't think that is true at all.


just no. no to all of that. it's a trailer. it was taken down from youtube, facebook, twitter, tiktok, and now google drive. for misinformation.

name an instance of google removing a google drive file for bandwidth cost.


I agree. There is some transfer limit on free GDrive accounts, though I'm unsure of what it is. I've seen it mentioned by archive teams.

What I find really interesting about all of this is that it highlights that YT can, when it's deemed necessary, actively police content. Something long thought to be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, in regards to copyrighted content.


2 TB per day up/down is the limit I hit backing up some raw image files from my DSLR. This might vary based on your overall usage as well (they more than likely penalize frequent uploaders of large files in some fashion).

On the other hand, they could support freedom of speech by not limiting access.

They do block access, therefore suppressing freedom of speech.

Arguing with "they're just saving resources" is ridiculous, especially when considering Google's wealth.


One way businesses get wealthy is by not letting people act like parasites on what are ultimately finite resources no matter how vast they may seem.

Google makes a business case for making a certain percentage of their resources available without charge to users of their other services, but that isn’t a promise to provide unlimited storage and bandwidth. Now we don’t really know fully what happened here. Certainly you could make guesses and if you’re cynical enough, make a convincing case that what they engaged in here was censorship because of the content. If you check your worst impulses and apply Occam’s Razor though, you’ll probably think that the removal or at least access limitation was an economic decision, one that Google engages in all the time when users abuse the terms of their shared file hosting, and one which every service provider of shared file hosting you or I have ever heard of has had to make at some point if they’ve ever seen any real use.


You have moved the goalposts dramatically. What started as "random files in Google Drive are being scanned for conspiracy theories and deleted", which would be incredibly worrying, is now "Google should give me tens of thousands of dollars worth of free stuff", which is not all that worrying.

How is it 'free stuff' when many people pay for Google Drive?

You pay for some things not everything. It's like when you go to the gym you have access to everything but if you take all the dumbbells and assemble them in the squat rack and start curling 5 lbs, you're gonna get kicked out.

Can you point me to where it says resource limits were ever an issue here, though? That seems... questionable.

Also, freedom of speech is not guaranteed on a privately owned platform... not sure why anyone expects that.

A lot of "free speech advocates" like to engage in redefinition when it comes to free speech.

It becomes some ill-defined ideal that's basically "freedom from consequences of speech" instead of the strict legal definition.


Actually - usually it's requiring others to promote, pay for or echo their speech.

I'm free to speak, and make you speak what I want, and pay for my speech, but YOU can't make me say things I don't want to.

Huh? Stand on a soapbox. Get a group together to promote your ideas. You can do all of this without going to jail, but google doesn't have to pay huge amounts to pump out your BS.


> freedom from consequences of speech

Obviously? Freedom of speech that doesn't protect you from consequences, ex. prison time, is an utterly worthless "freedom".


I think this is a (willful) misunderstanding of what "consequences" means in the context of the freedom of expression.

"Consequences," colloquially understood, are interpersonal repercussions in one's public and private life. They're a necessary part of the freedom of expression: such a freedom wouldn't be very useful if exercising it had no consequences. They don't include prison time.

Everybody wants those consequences to be personally beneficial, but that's not embedded within the right itself (and can't be, as that would result in a contradiction in terms between equally just and/or lawful expressions).


> "Consequences," colloquially understood, are interpersonal repercussions in one's public and private life. They're a necessary part of the freedom of expression: such a freedom wouldn't be very useful if exercising it had no consequences. They don't include prison time.

Context matters. Whenever I have heard someone saying that there will be "consequences" for your speech, it is usually a threat.

If someone threatens you with targeted harassment for your speech, they are a criminal. Someone coercing you and trying to induce you into silence is not a legitimate consequence of speech. It sounds like you are excusing online hate mobs.


> Whenever I have heard someone saying that there will be "consequences" for your speech, it is usually a threat.

At the risk of being a little flippant: yes. It is a "threat," in the sense that it's an explicit communication that someone is going to be displeased if you say the thing that you've been telegraphing. The "threat" is that you might not be able to rely on their (or their community's) implicit social approbation in the future. In the context of things like racism, this feels like an awfully mild threat.

> If someone threatens you with targeted harassment for your speech, they are a criminal. Someone coercing you and trying to induce you into silence is not a legitimate consequence of speech. It sounds like you are excusing online hate mobs.

I'm not excusing anyone. Freedom of expression is symmetric: anybody who belongs to an "online hate mob" is going to face the consequence of me not wanting to interact with them. For all I know, that's what they want too!


> At the risk of being a little flippant: yes. It is a "threat," in the sense that it's an explicit communication that someone is going to be displeased if you say the thing that you've been telegraphing. The "threat" is that you might not be able to rely on their (or their community's) implicit social approbation in the future. In the context of things like racism, this feels like an awfully mild threat.

So you agree with me that people who say that are not sincere, and not legitimate.

Threats are actually not a valid consequence of speech.

Do you understand that the whole "not freedom from consequence" platitude is essentially just telling an assault victim that it is their fault, because assault is just a "consequence" of walking around in public.

"Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence" = "Shut up or you will be punished"

That's probably what Harvey Weinstein or Jefferey Epstein told his victims.

And if you say something like that, you are probably a bad person.


> Threats are actually not a valid consequence of speech.

Not sure what you mean by "valid". Sounds like a moral stance. Thoughts are a consequence of speech. A threat is an expression of a thought.

> Do you understand that the whole "not freedom from consequence" platitude is essentially just telling an assault victim that it is their fault

No, it does not. Trying to abridge expression, to prevent misinterpretation is impractical. Defensively speaking to that end, is not an element to free speech. It's specifically in opposition.

> "Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence" = "Shut up or you will be punished"

Or you will be rewarded.

> That's probably what Harvey Weinstein or Jefferey Epstein told his victims.

I'm glad you have the right to express your beliefs, although I disagree with how you interpret speech.

Just because someone acts virtuously or within their rights, does not mean they are given privilege, nor guarantee that they will be rewarded, nor guaranteed that there will be no retribution. Speech rights do not solve imbalances of power. The philosophy of free speech, as I understand it, is not about individuals per se. Over time, enough people will have enough opportunity to solve their own problems (including power imbalance), by cultural change.


> So you agree with me that people who say that are not sincere, and not legitimate.

I don’t agree, sorry. They seem perfectly sincere; I’m not sure what you mean by “legitimate” in this context (what would “legitimate” behavior look like here? Never disengaging from another person’s attempt at a conversation, no matter how absurd the priors are? This doesn’t feel like a reasonable standard to demand of others.)

I put “threat” in scare-quotes because I thought it was obvious that this isn’t really a threat in any meaningful sense. Equating it to abuse is specious and distasteful.


> I don’t agree, sorry. They seem perfectly sincere; I’m not sure what you mean by “legitimate” in this context (what would “legitimate” behavior look like here? Never disengaging from another person’s attempt at a conversation, no matter how absurd the priors are? This doesn’t feel like a reasonable standard to demand of others.)

> I put “threat” in scare-quotes because I thought it was obvious that this isn’t really a threat in any meaningful sense. Equating it to abuse is specious and distasteful.

I don't think the platitude itself is a threat, I'm saying that it is the same as condoning illegitimate bad behavior as a response to people exercising their rights. It is condoning bad behavior, and in the sense that it is amplifying a potential threat and coercing someone to not exercise their rights, it does sound like a threat, in a small way.

For example, it is generally frowned upon to tell a woman that she should make herself less attractive because it is her fault if she is assaulted. Even if there might be a kernel of truth to it, it is a shitty thing to say, and one might even call it "invalid", because it is often outside of whether someone indeed has the right to walk in public or say what they please.

And, in our society, even the worst people should have the same rights as all of us. Because all of us are the worst people to someone. These tactics are themselves wrong; illegitimate. So it should give you pause when you see that you are doing the same thing as those who silence people speaking truth to power.

I'm sorry, I really thought my examples were helpful.


The owners of the first telegraph networks banned journalists who reported on forced child labor and union busting. They manipulated elections and stock prices. And you would have defended those robber-barons.

Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences, right?

Sure, they have a virtual monopoly on electronic communication, and they built their networks through direct and indirect subsidy from tax payers, but it's a "private" network, and they are a corporation, so not just do they get to be evil, but smug people will defend them from anyone even criticizing them.

A corporation was supposed to provide a public good in exchange for the privileges they are granted. I know that there isn't really anything we can do about it anymore. In many ways they have materially benefited from the public. I don't think it is too much to ask that we get something back.


Google doesn't have a virtual monopoly on platforms to distribute video over the web. That is simply not true.

> Google doesn't have a virtual monopoly on platforms to distribute video over the web. That is simply not true.

...I was referring to the telegraph operators. Everything I said was true of them. Right down to the toadies that defend the rich and powerful.

But regardless, I think a good case can be made that Google, and the other tech giants, have a near monopoly.


Then it is a terrible comparison. Google does not control distribution of video content on the web. There are many platforms that could be used to share a movie on the web.

That makes it pretty unlike telegraph operators.


> That makes it pretty unlike telegraph operators.

I never said that YouTube was exactly like telegraph operators. I was making a much more general comparison between of communication magnates back then and now.

It seems like a pretty direct mapping to me.

Big tech today and telegraph operators of the past both benefited greatly from the government, and yet they like to claim they are "private platforms", and are therefore entitled to be as evil as they like, as long as it happens on their network.

Big tech today and telegraph operators of the past did evil stuff. And the free market did not stop them. The people and the government had to restrain them.

Facebook and Google are doing some really egregious things. And I think it is going to take direct government sanction to keep them in line.

And yes, I do think that effectively Google and a few other companies have a de-facto monopoly on video platforms, due to their vertically integrated infrastructure. I don't think there is a realistic way to exert market pressure against their agenda.

Just the tip of the iceberg, but independent journalists/podcasters that tried informing the public about horrible working conditions at Amazon warehouses were systemically removed from YouTube. Only organizations deemed "legitimate" are even allowed to upload videos where people use the word "coronavirus" without having their videos demoted, or outright deleted. Independent journalists banned, but Fox and MSNBC are promoted to the front page.

Do I seriously have to connect the dots about how companies like Google and Amazon are starting to act very much like 19th century industrialists?


The only real reason they are censoring anything is to make it so the government doesn't have to intervene.

If youtube/facebook/etc were just platforms where people were spreading false information/hysteria/propaganda from other countries targeting the US during a crisis the government would step in and force its own censorship regime on these services.

These services are trying to prevent that from happening by being proactive about policing themselves. This is expensive. They wouldn't do it without a profit motive of keeping the government from getting involved, which would probably be even worse.


Their legal immunity as a neutral platform isn't guaranteed under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

These private platforms want to be free of the consequences of their actions. They want to pretend to be neutral platforms, like a telephone carrier, but pick who gets to say what on their networks like a publisher.

Their censorship goes well beyond complying with the law, or even protecting users from harassment.

So, if they want to pretend to be completely private, then they should be treated that way.


Windows 10 is a free subscription, and users don't necessarily own a license of their operating system. Under this precedent, what is to stop Microsoft from deleting problematic files off of users' computers? After all, it's a privately owned platform.

Windows 10 routinely deletes problematic files from peoples computers; it's called "Windows Defender". Most users are happy to let Microsoft delete malware. The reason that propaganda videos aren't detected as malware because none of these companies give a damn about what you're using your computer or your private storage for. It is a ton of extra work for them to run some censorship side business to specifically annoy conspiracy theorists. The reason that YouTube deletes propaganda videos is because nobody will advertise on them. They cost money to store and serve to viewers, but will never generate revenue. Some are so bad that they drive advertisers away from other videos. All this "censorship" is at the behest of advertisers, or fear of backlash from advertisers.

The thing with YouTube is that its greatest power is its greatest weakness. They let anyone in the world serve 4k or 8k videos to an infinite number of users. They find advertisers for your videos and automatically run their ads on your videos, so that you can get cash money from producing them. And, there is a recommendation engine so that viewers can discover your video and channel. With those advantages, come disadvantages -- the service as a whole is called YouTube, and so a bad video on your channel reflects poorly on other channels and the service as a whole. So they have guidelines to protect their success, at the cost of not making all the advantages available to you. That is why there are "guidelines". I am sure if you buy a Google Cloud account and pay for the transfer and storage of your content, and find your own advertisers to fund it, you can host as many conspiracy theory videos as you want and nobody will stop you. But I think you'll find that you make negative money on this proposition.

(Also, I personally paid $200 for Windows 10, so I'm not sure how people are getting it for free.)


If you had a previous version of Windows, the upgrading to Windows 10 was free.

Additionally, you can download Windows 10 and never activate it and all it will do is show a watermark indicating it is not activated.

You can always pay for Windows.

I think Windows 10 Pro is pay only.


Still just watermarked, in fact.

Hi there! It looks like you're shadowbanned, although I don't see the reason why. I vouched for this comment so people can see it, as it doesn't seem to be inherently harmful or against the guidelines. You should probably message Dang.

Defender only puts things into quarantine automatically. Which is annoying, but not as problematic. Deleting or restoring is manual.

It's not clear that the file itself was removed, only that sharing it was disabled. So no file was deleted.

You own the storage space you use when using windows on your personal device.


>what is to stop Microsoft from deleting problematic files off of users' computers?

The cost benefit analysis of massively upsetting users. If memory serves, they used to use this method to target Windows piracy.


Note that the article doesn't say explicitly whether Google deleted the video from drive, or simply disabled the public sharing of the video. If they only disabled sharing (like they would for spam, pirated materials etc.) this may be understandable.

This is a hugely important distinction. Can we please figure this out before we pick up the pitchforks?

The headline ("Google Drive takes down user’s personal copy...") is suggestive of the file being entirely gone. There's a couple of paragraphs in the article that would seem to support this, but agree that it would be good to have it made very explicit.

Since Drive doesn't generally delete users' files for policy violations maybe the safer assumption is to assume that it wasn't deleted unless there's evidence that strongly suggests otherwise.

Similar news: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16668267

What I learned from that post is that as soon as you start share your file, it's no longer a private file and stricter guideline/requirement applies.

This is also indicated from the TOS:

> Files in your individual drive are private, until you decide to share them.


Yes, it turns out the the web is not, in fact, a giant virtual seastead unbothered by the norms and rules of society. If you distribute information via computer networks it will be subject to scrutiny to see if it is malware, copyrighted by someone else, exploitative, seditious, etc.

It's disingenuous to conflate Alphabet Corporation's political strategies with "the norms and rules of society".

It's disingenuous to conflate a private entities exercising their rights to "refuse a problematic client service" with infringement of the constitutionally protected free speech by a governmental entity.

Oh boy, another "private entities can do what they want" argument. What's the point in saying freedom of speech only applies in public places and protection from the government, and then turning around and handing over control of the biggest tool for sharing information (the Internet) to private companies? Sorry, but the "private companies can do what they want" argument is old and tired when it comes to censorship.

Anyone who doubts this argument should also take a look at the increasing role of private companies to circumvent your 4th Amendment protections on behalf of your government. A limited set of examples:

-License plate location databases -Cell location databases -Contact databases

The 4th may prevent your local PD from gathering all that data on every citizen, but it doesn't stop them from buying it from private companies that collect it. This is a problem.


Or someone deems it "misinformation", whatever that means.

Just a guess but I think it means it promotes a bunch of false claims about COVID that could lead to people getting hurt or killed.

So I guess they banned the CDC & WHO from posting anything after they both parroted Chinese propaganda (read: lies) about no human-to-human spreading ;)

From the article, it seems like they stopped public sharing of the video via Google Drive:

> In an article reporting on the takedown, The Washington Post’s Silicon Valley Correspondent Elizabeth Dwoskin complains that after the coronavirus documentary Plandemic was censored on social media, some YouTube clips were telling users how to access “banned footage” from the documentary via Google Drive.

> She then notes that after The Washington Post contacted Google, Google Drive took down a file featuring the trailer for the Plandemic documentary.


So "journalists" are now colluding with platforms to censor information. Brave new world.

Not collusion, not "journalists". I imagine it went something like this:

Journalist: Hey, can I get a comment on this video, "Plandemic", being distributed on Google Drive?

Google employee: No comment.

And then Google employee sends a message to another employee and says, "Hey, do we need to do something about this? It looks like that video we took down off YouTube for violating our ToS is being hosted elsewhere."

Is it collusion every time a journalist asks someone to comment on a thing happening, and that someone then responds in some way beyond just saying "Yep that's a thing!"


It's like sending a picture of your neighbor's garden to the police, "asking for clarification" about what is permitted.

You can do that, but at least call it what it is.


Many modern journalists are activists first.

This is crossing a very bad line, and is absolutely unacceptable.

My company of about 50 people on G-Suite will be canceling our subscription and moving to Office 365 within the next three months. We had discussed it in the past due to their history of flagrant disregard for the security and privacy standards we require, but this has galvanized the conversation and we're prioritizing it on the near-term now.

I'm sure we'll eventually discover that Microsoft has similar policies, and that there isn't any good option when it comes to putting sensitive data on another company's servers. Maybe we'll eventually need to self-host more system capabilities. But, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.


You gotta fight! For your right! To misssssleeeeead.

It might be more prudent to be careful about accepting what you read at first glance; why would google allow someone to stream data (against policy for the product), let alone when that content violates their policies on their content streaming networks? Do you think they should leave up public to other content that violates their policies, just because it's tied to a private account?


It needs to be said though, that these "misinformation" policies are nonsense.

If they had these policies in January, I would have been banned for disagreeing with the WHO and saying that this pandemic was serious.

Independent journalists were warning us about this since November, despite the best efforts of the Chinese government and American tech companies.

But it would have been fake news, until it turned out to be true. They want to be able to decide whatever the truth is in the moment, and silence anyone who disagrees.


There was also that incredible stretch from the CDC where they tried to convince the public that face masks are ineffective at slowing the spread of infection. Now they have done a complete 180 and recommend everyone wear one in public. The science of facemasks has been well understood for many decades and the CDC's understanding of their efficacy did not evolve over the last 2 months, their disinformation campaign did.

It's obvious to me that they simply wanted to preserve as much PPE as possible for those on the front lines who needed it most. But they could've just said that, instead of eroding their own credibility with lies. It's no wonder the pandemic response has become divided along political lines when people can't trust their government to give them facts.


Our issue with Google stems in the sense that they have very hazy delineation between their consumer and enterprise products. This kind of behavior is acceptable in a personal product, and appears to be where this policy was applied in this case.

When it comes to the Enterprise deployments we provide to our employees, we are not willing to accept the risk that some files may disappear, without warning or chance to internally remediate, because a user decided to share it too widely or decided to share something against some arcane terms of service. We pay too much for this kind of invisible impact to our business. Its our role in this customer-provider relationship to remediate this. If we didn't remediate it in a timely manner, they would have every right to suspend service. but we've seen no evidence that we would even be provided this warning.


If you’re only in favor of free speech that doesn’t mislead, you’re not in favor of free speech.

This has nothing to do with 'free speech' though.

edit: apparently I'm rate-limited from making new posts, but JackFr's response to me below is completely fair. Sorry for not reading more thoroughly!


That’s true.

I was responding to the first sentence, which really wasn’t the whole point of the parent though.


I'm not in favor of unlimited free speech. I'm in favor of limiting speech that is intended to harm, knowingly mislead, or spread hate.

And who decides what speech meets that standard? Have you read the other posts in this thread? The "official" position on a variety of facts and best-practices has changed multiple times during the course of this pandemic. It's profoundly disturbing how enthusiastic some people are to start censoring anything that goes against the official narrative.

> The "official" position on a variety of facts and best-practices has changed multiple times during the course of this pandemic.

Has it? It's remained stable as far as I can tell; maintain distance from others, minimize interactions with others. There has been some evolution in disease treatment, but it has been a rather measured evolution.

> It's profoundly disturbing how enthusiastic some people are to start censoring anything that goes against the official narrative.

This is a bit unfair. I'm in favor of censoring speech that demonstrably causes harm. This is done in many nations where they are arguably more free than the US despite our age-old slogan from the early 1800s which implies we're unique in having demoratic freedoms (namely European nations). There does not seem to be a significant propaganda effect or unwarranted censorship in those nations - in fact, quite the opposite, as they appear to be better educated and better informed than Americans. Perhaps in the past, America's version of free speech guaranteed liberty; but now it's just as often used (if not more, in our media) to cause harm - anti-vax, hate speech of all sorts, anti-mask, advocating taking hydroxychloroquine without supportive medical evidence or examination, general misleading of the American public.


No true Scotsman, eh?

The future is all about self hosting and/or peer to peer technology not controlled by a central authority.

Unfortunately, I have to believe the opposite, even if I wish it wasn't true.

People don't want to maintain a server, look after backups, deal with software updates, legal stuff, blacklists, ddos attacks, .... it never ends. People want to create some content, publish it and be done. This directly drives the future to externalizing these things to other companies.

Distance isn't an issue, economies of scale are huge. This means smaller companies cant compete with bigger ones. The internet causes big winner-take-all effects. This drives further and further centralization, until only a few oligopolies remain.

I liked the computing ecosystem of the 80s and 90s more than that of today. It was smaller, more comunal. I do have my own small server on the net, and enjoy it. But to be honest, that's a hobby.

Self hosting looks like it will end up like doing your own car maintenance, building your own radio, creating your own railway engine, smithing your own sword, ... A nice hobby for a smaller and smaller minority, but obsolete for more than 99% of the population


> Self hosting

It isn't just "hosting" that's the issue, it's "publishing".

You can buy "hosting" for a few dollars a month from lots of companies. But that just gives you a place to park files. There's still a lot of other things you need to get to the point of "create some content, publish it and be done", which you correctly say is what people want, and "hosting" does not include all those things.

Various hosting providers will also sell you "publishing" or "content management" services of various types, but none of them are as easy to use as "edit my document on Google Drive" (or even, for that matter, "edit my markdown file and git push to my public repo on github", which is the techie version of "edit my document on Google Drive"), which is why virtually nobody uses them.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean we're doomed to a few oligopolies controlling everything that gets published. First, even if less than 1% of the population is able and willing to do the extra work to publish on their own site independently of the oligopolies (as you do, and as I do too), that's still not nothing. And we can still send links to our own sites via email, facebook, twitter, etc.

Second, while the oligopolies currently provide self-publishing capabilities that are easier to use than anything else, that's still not their primary business model; the only reason they provide them is to corral more users into their walled gardens so they can sell more ads. Since it's not their primary business model, they are vulnerable to disruption from someone for whom providing self-publishing capabilities is their primary business model. (Of course, to say this could happen is not to say it will happen, or that it's easy.)


Regarding your first, this is only true if the ecosystem allows it.

I could repair my own car, except the last time I tried to change a tire, I couldn't as the garage used a pneumatic tool to fasten the screws inhumanly hard. Every so much km, the car starts flashing all kinds of warnings because some computer from the manufacturer needs to be attached to the odb2 service connector. Neither is insurmountable, but why would I spend more money on tools than I ever would on the garage? Why would I spend a ton of my time, and take the risk of screwing up the car I depend on? Only because I like it, i.e. a hobby.

In the computer world, you can still send email, but if 1/3th of the people have a gmail account, you better have configured the server exactly as they want it, and every few months they change the rules. Google has a near monopoly in directing people to your site. If they decide you get no visitos without amp, you use amp or you live without much visitors.

Look at github's popularity. Not that long ago, every open source project ran their own source control, bug tracker, wiki, etc... gitlab's integrated system made that extremely easy, and still the very software devs that should be the main demographic for running their own server have migrated in masses to github.

Regarding your second: It might be true. But in this case you just swapped a huge company/oligopoly for another one that is a bit smaller. You're still not self hosting and peer-to-peering in this model.

None of this is insurmountable, but all of it is a bother. So you'll only do it if you want to, i.e. as a hobby.

I dont want to looking at it as 'doomed'. Technology advanced, and previous methods are now obsolete. We probably lost something charming in the process, but we win other things. That's just the way progress works, both in IT or outside it.


> the very software devs that should be the main demographic for running their own server

I don't see why. Software devs are specialists in developing software, not in server administration.


> Regarding your first, this is only true if the ecosystem allows it.

What you are describing is not "the ecosystem"; it's trying to mix doing it yourself with letting third parties do it. I agree that often doesn't work well. I don't bother trying to repair my own car because I would need to do everything myself and I don't have either the skill or the interest where car repair is concerned. As you say, doing it yourself is a hobby, and car repair is not my hobby.

> In the computer world, you can still send email, but if 1/3th of the people have a gmail account, you better have configured the server exactly as they want it, and every few months they change the rules. Google has a near monopoly in directing people to your site. If they decide you get no visitos without amp, you use amp or you live without much visitors.

If it's just a hobby we're talking about, there's nobody I have to send email to that only has a gmail account, so I don't care what stupid stuff Google is pulling. Similarly, I don't have to have a ton of people using my site, so I don't care what tricks Google is playing with search. If there's a particular person I want to see the site, I email them a link. Or I text it to them, or use whatever channel I already use to communicate with them.

If you actually have to care about getting email through Gmail's byzantine rules, or getting Google search results to direct visitors to your site, you don't have a hobby, you have a business, and that's a completely different world. Now you have to balance the cost of dealing with Google's bullshit against the cost of routing around them, and compare with the respective benefits of each.

> in this case you just swapped a huge company/oligopoly for another one that is a bit smaller.

You're assuming that the "someone" is a single huge company trying to get everybody in a single walled garden. But the reason the current oligopolies are doing that, as I said, is not because it's the best business model for selling the capability to easily self-publish. They're doing it because it's the best business model for selling ads. There's no reason a company or companies (there doesn't need to be just one, and my use of the singular was not intended to imply that I thought there would necessarily be just one) whose primary business model is selling easy self-publishing directly to users would have to do the same things Google and Facebook are doing.

> You're still not self hosting and peer-to-peering in this model

That's because I agree with you that what the vast majority of people want is not self-hosting and peer-to-peering, but the ability to create content, publish it, and be done. So I don't expect self-hosting and peer-to-peering to ever be more than a hobby pursued by a small number of outliers.


I patenty disagree with the argument that if you are a hobbyist, you do not need to interact with Google systems.

If you can afford to alienate 1/3 of population then you're either a big business or a government and can push your own standards. Nobody else can do that.


It seems to me we are ending up roughly in agreement.

Small tuning: I was thinking more of microsoft/azure and amazon than google than facebook as oligopoly player.


> Self hosting looks like it will end up like doing your own car maintenance, building your own radio, creating your own railway engine, smithing your own sword, ... A nice hobby for a smaller and smaller minority, but obsolete for more than 99% of the population

This is what we try to solve at cloudron.io. You can self host apps on your servers without being that mechanic/electrician/sysadmin.

disclaimer: am co-founder.


I don't know, I think p2p is more a meme. Sure, it has its use cases but for "muh decentralization of authority", I don't think the future will consist of p2p tech. Just look at BitChute and Steemit.

I would rather look at successful projects with potential, like IPFS[0] and Peertube[1], instead of failed ICO money grabs.

[0] https://blog.ipfs.io/ [1] https://joinpeertube.org/


Even PixelFed, https://pixelfed.org (Federation)

While I'm not familiar with BitChute, a large part of Steemit's issues boil down to their choice of consensus mechanism: delegated proof-of-stake (dPOS), rather than a fault with a p2p model generally. Many decentralized projects stay away from dPOS, as it can lead to the cartel-like structure that's currently plaguing the platform.

Also the past or the present, if you choose to.

Most people don't, and get surprised when they find out the difference.


Any suggestions? I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

I think the cloud was a dumb idea all along. CDNs are an exception though.

I agree. Its a weirdly divisive issue, but I think the market will continue to move this way.

The issue that all centralized systems will inevitably face is the requirement to blanket apply overly restrictive policies in order to head off legal issues. You see this in every massive, centralized system. Google Drive deletes files that trip a bandwidth limit. YouTube has algorithms which ban videos for even speaking about a topic. There's a lot of nuance in moderating content; that nuance gets lost in systems of massive scale, and this inevitably causes these systems to "implode" on themselves.

In other words: the legal system has a ton of nuance. Nuance defines our legal system. Its alright to kill someone in self defense; its not alright to kill someone in cold blood. But, Google (et al) cannot apply nuance at scale. No one can. Its physically impossible. The issue is not Google; its the Scale.

There are two possible futures: One where we continue down the path of centralization, the draconian policies continue to get worse, and our right to speech is increasingly eroded by private companies; another where we move to more peer-to-peer moderation, which will probably be in a more peer-to-peer like system. There is no third option. People argue this point like there is a third option: There is not. Distributed networks may not happen, but you will not like the world we'll live in if they don't.

This doesn't necessarily have to be a strict Peer-to-Peer system in the technical sense. Reddit is, to some degree, a Distributed, Peer-to-Peer system, whereby the moderators of subreddits get primary control over the content in those subreddits. There's a relationship large products like G-Suite could have with their customers, whereby they delegate the moderation of the majority of their users activities to the customer/IT, while still being capable of stepping in and remediating issues with problem customers as a whole. This is, actually, pretty similar to the relationship AWS has with its customers, and it works! But, G-Suite does not have this relationship with their customers; they blanket apply the same personal account policies to enterprise customers.

But, I also truly believe that no one at Google even knows what their system is doing anymore. Its probably billions of lines of code, systems, policy enforcement, tripwires, and circuit breakers that have long since spiraled out of the control of anyone who actually may want to improve their relationship with enterprise customers.


Network topological discovery is the hard pill to swallow with p2p based tech. You're paying for it in much higher network bandwidth, cpu, battery, and more.

Eventually the tradeoffs will be so minuscule that they will be a rounding error. But right now, that's not true.


Pirate Bay is all magnet links now. Internet Archive serves most items as torrents while acting as a store of last resort. SciHub and LibGen are functional and available.

There are tradeoffs, but it will happen, even if it's TXT records for a domain that point to IPFS links (namecoin aside). The future will make it easier, but it works today.


Pirate Bay, SciHub and Libgen are used mainly on desktop computers with an unlimited broadband connection. They are niche communities for enthusiasts (whether the dwindling pool of torrent users, or academics/bookish people). The general public now consumes its content on mobile, and as the GP mentioned there are significant bandwidth and battery costs to trying to provide distributed content over the mobile devices we have today.

The harder pill is IPv4 and NAT. It used to be easier to grab a static IP from your ISP, but those days are gone for many of us.

IPv6 could really foster a home network revolution, when it's finally in place 20 years from now.


I don't buy that NAT is a huge roadblock. A VPS is $5/mo, or dynamic DNS plus port forwarding is free. Either way, an ISP can apply the same reasoning and cut off access. Centralization due to using DNS (or raw IPs) for naming is the problem. Censorship resistance comes from there being a swarm that as a whole cannot be taken down, while members come and go. This requires a decentralized namespace for referencing content.

Another option is encrypted hosting. How about something like eCryptfs/EncFS over NFS/SFTP?

It's always about convenience though. Nothing beats being able to access your files by visiting a website.


Self hosting was 20 years ago. Who do you think is better at running a mail server, you or Google? Do you want to deal with spam complaints, security, OS upgrades, DMARC, SPF, etc? It's all a pain.

FYI I run my own mail servers as a hobby, but still have my main personal account on gmail.


If Google starts to censor emails containing certain content, which doesn't seem too far from reality at this point, then I would be much better at running a mail server than Google in the sense that I would get any mail that is sent to me.

> Who do you think is better at running a mail server, you or Google?

Neither. My hosting provider is better than either me or Google at that, and there are other companies providing email services who are better still.

What Google is "better" at with GMail is providing email whose suckage is just short of the level of suckage that would make it worth its users' while to give up having to just go to one place, their Google account, for everything in order to have email services that were bearable.


That's fine. The point was really, hosting it yourself vs someone experienced with all the nuances of email hosting. The fact is, it IS a pain.

Read the rest of the comments here.

Depending on the functionality you want, perhaps a synology (commercial solution) or nextcloud or even a samba box will be a better solution for privacy than Microsoft.

I don't believe individuals have enough legal or political authority to take on all responsibility themselves if they were sharing questionable material. That means some of the responsibility falls on Google, because we the public shall demand it of them.

Google didn't delete anyone's files, and even then some responsibility already falls on them just for hosting your content. If Google were part of distribution, that would be a separate wrongdoing in the eyes of the public.

Google does not have the luxury of a government institution to which it may delegate all difficult questions of institutional responsibility (unlike the FDA or the FCC, both government organizations where companies may delegate responsibility), thus putting the pressure on Google to exercise oracle-like vision.


The scrutiny is on Google due to their paperclip-maximizing promotion of specific Youtube videos and other content. This topic is about simple URL hosting, which does not involve editorializing. Your argument works just as well for an ISP, meaning it's a non-starter if we wish to retain any Freedom.

Name any ISP in America that will distribute your video worldwide for free.

All of them. You only pay for the ongoing connection/overall throughput/capacity. The entire world will be able to hit any server I put up and expose to the Net, and the content being served flows on through the ISP being none the wiser; despite excessive legislative and executive efforts to encourage otherwise.

Now, you've got the potential for QoS shenanigans, but I'm certain most people would wake up to the hard and fast line being crossed. Or I could be wrong and they'd just shake their heads disappointingly as my clearly by that point undesirable self was dragged out into the street and beaten half to death for daring to suggest that people should be able to communicate freely.


I think you may have overlooked the critical words "for free". Data traffic costs money.

I did not. The original question was framed poorly. What was meant was "Name one endpoint provider who will serve your content for free." That would indeed be a short list. The ISP has nothing to do with serving the file. Only the transit. He got the answer to the question he asked because I'm getting weary of people strawmanning that people are freeloaders while they seemingly intentionally miss the bigger point that a behemoth of a private company is being leaned upon and taking upon itself the mantle of arbiter of appropriate content.

The fact everyone else seems to enjoy getting cavalier withthe details of just who does what in the context of Internet business transactions doesn't mean I have to perpetuate it.

Also, I do serve things for people without charging them. I have an Internet connection I need for other things. So why not? The ISP doesn't care. It's another packet among billions. It was what the hackers, anon's, and webmasters before me did; so I figure I should return the favor to the next gen. If that means a bunch of people end up getting in a tizzy; take it up with them (the people whose content to which you object). I'm not doing your dirty work, and no one else if they value the principles the web, and the country who invented the damn thing we're founded on.

I've been writing and rewriting the end of this damn post for about half an hour, which is generally a good sign I'm out of sorts. So let me wrap up with an apology if I've come off as abrasive. I do care. I don't like that the web seems so ripe a tool for the misinformation specialist. Now, even more than ever though, we need to be coming together and not figuring out how to push people or ideas off the Net, but being able to engage them head on, and bring the light back to what have increasingly become the "dark corners" of the Net. You may hate having the same argument over and over again. I understand that. Society though is a complexemergent organism all it's own built on the aggregate result of our collective signalling and behavior. Right now, the only outcome I can from the direction we're going is the complete ruin of everything Western Civilization purportedly held sacred because we've let the implementation run away with us, without keeping it chained to the spirit of the damn thing.

I know none of that probably makes any sense to anyone else but me. I just... Wanted to get it out there.

Anyway... Good night everyone. Stay safe.


Wow, so you're saying a free of charge Google Drive way to share files isn't without restrictions? I'm shocked!

I really thought this misinformation video people found a loophole to not have to pay for what bandwidth actually costs. I really thought that Google had offered a free CDN for everyone, limitless, when they (and Amazon, and Microsoft, and Akamai) charge huge amounts for this as a cloud service.

Yeah, that was sarcasm.

Bandwidth costs actual money. What's next? They think they can build a Youtube competitor by storing and streaming all the videos from a collection of free Google Drive accounts? Or even a business Google Drive plan? Read the ToS, or better yet use common sense.


> I really thought this misinformation video people found a loophole to not have to pay for what bandwidth actually costs. I really thought that Google had offered a free CDN for everyone, limitless, when they (and Amazon, and Microsoft, and Akamai) charge huge amounts for this as a cloud service.

> Yeah, that was sarcasm.

Maybe so, but I came across a streaming site (of questionable legality) that did exactly this. Loaded an iframe with what looked like a random domain (always two first names, like "PedroMaria.xyz"). Then the iframe made a bunch of XHRs to load chunks of movie data from Google Drive. It was really quite fascinating.

Aside, this is one of my favorite things about using uMatrix with aggressive defaults -- as you unbreak sites, you learn a lot about what services are commonly used to build websites.


Yeah, I'm not surprised. Having worked for multiple service and content providers I would assume that abuse like this happens.

One notable case was when a deal to license a database fell through when the would-be client said "I've found a different free way to solve this".

Turns out that "different way" was to scrape our website in real time and present it to their clients as their own, without attribution or payment.

Abuse happens. Shoplifting happens. That doesn't mean that the shoplifter "found a loophole", nor that it's morally or legally right.

And it's not unfair if the selective enforcement is based on "bandwidth actually used" or "in addition to violating our policies you're also hurting the world" (or even "we just plain don't like you"). I.e. in the case above about scraping our data, we just dropped it. They weren't going to be our customer, clearly, and suing (they were in a different country too) or technically blocking them would not be worth the cost. And they didn't consume that many resources at our scale, so whatever.

But if that site had been a porn site or something then the cost of doing nothing would include potential PR issues of being associated with them[1].

So in short: This (CDN from article, and using google drive like this) is abuse. A proof of concept likely won't get shut down, but it's not something that'll work in the long run.

[1] I'm not against porn as such, but let's say our database was one of children's toys. That kind of company would understandably be hurt by apparently making deals with porn sites to show up there.


The file was widely shared on Google Drive and linked to from a public twitter message— it was very much not a personal file. And the title literally was, “An Effective Treatment for Coronavirus” referring to hydroxychloroquine. Google’s doing its part to purge pandemic misinformation and prevent harm. The authoring “doctor,” as far as I can tell has never had postgraduate medical training and cannot practice medicine without supervision, is trying to achieve writing a document with a title like that I don’t know.

The goalpost moving by people here on HN is quite entertaining to watch. Hydroxychloroquine was just bought in bulk by the UK in case it turns out to be a cure.

Apparently the only people who are allowed to have opinions these days are academics employed by governments?


To be clear, the UK is undergoing a clinical trial with hydroxychloroquine. Hopefully it works, but as of now it's not known if the harms outweigh the benefits.

There are trials yes. And, to be clear, they're also bulk buying it:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/19/uk-to-test-hyd...

I have no idea if this medicine will have any impact but at this point, I've seen so many people claim it's some sort of quack medicine/conspiracy/etc that it's important people realise that it's being taken seriously. As far as I can tell the moment Trump mentioned it a huge number of people decided it must, inherently, be wrong and have been wrongly attacking it ever since.


It's not entirely clear to me, but did Google delete the file from the user's personal, private drive, or did they delete public access to the file?

Because the former is unacceptable, but the latter is not as big a deal at all.

virmundi 13 days ago [flagged]

The trouble is where do they draw the line. Say I share a pamphlet about how Jesus reclaims humanity from the corruption of sin. If Google thinks all Christians are superstitious bumpkins, does that give them the right to remove my public share?

They have the right to stop hosting whatever they are hosting for any reason or no reason at all. What makes you think they can be forced to host your files?

The implicit idea that they are not a publisher. Now they are. They should lose their protections.

What protections do you believe platforms have that publishers do not?

Article 50 doesn't make a distinction between the two, if that's what you're thinking of.


Given the number of conservatives in congress, it's surprising that they won't sponsor some legislation like this. But they seem to be more interested in protecting business interests.

The line will be drawn arbitrarily and inconsistently, which might not be as bad as it sounds.

There will always be some content that just has to be banned.

No moderation will ever get the rules & the line exactly right, but they can be close enough to reasonable.

The consequences matter. Losing private access to a file is quite bad, but Google deciding they don't want to help you publicly share something is a bit different. (note that in this case it's unclear which of those things it was)


> There will always be some content that just has to be banned.

No there won't; there will be content that special interest groups want banned, and must be prevented from getting banned. Eg child molesters wanting video evidence of their crimes banned.


How is (what is basically) a unilaterally executed "gag order" not a big deal?

Do any cloud providers provide free unlimited outbound transfer? Because that's what a public file on Google Drive is.

Cutting off someone who is abusing your free tier isn't censorship.


It has not been proven Google does that for all 4GB files. Verboten content or not.

Without that test, you really can't conclusively say whether it is QoS enforcement or politically motivated.


Google does it with files much smaller than 4GB, and I've personally experienced recordings of lectures my student org produced being blocked after tens of views from non @university.edu accounts.

Turns out, they don't want people using Google Drive as a video streaming service.


It's common and consistent with what I have seen when Google Drive were used to shared copyrighted content.

does anyone know who the people behind the reclaimthenet.org domain are? The headline seems intentionally misleading and the entire article is biased, as seems to be the case for most of the site, almost exlcusively focussing on censorship of fringe figures out of conspiracy and far-right political circles.

There is no reference to organisations, writers or editors anywhere on this site if I'm not missing anything.


There are authors.. https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=site:reclaimthenet.org+inu...

But none of them seem to have LinkedIn profiles, they're quite possibly pen names.

The contact page lists a UK country code Signal number, so they're probably based there.

Some of the names appear on other sites with the same nav structure.

It is definitely a signal, but not an automatic indicator of something nefarious. There could be a whole host of good reasons why they're doing that. For example, the site could be launched as an experiment by a non-profit whose core work should not be associated with a risky message (this is my current favourite idea), or might piss off their funders.

FWIW there is a ton of newswriting on the Internet occurring under pen names for one reason or other. A lot of writers in the middle east will not or cannot use their real names.


If it's hard to find out who is funding a campaign, it's a pretty good bet it's malicious disinfo.

Or, they don't want to be doxxed and harassed.

I 100% agree.

Which is a shame, because this conversation does need to happen—we need a figure to argue against tech giants being unilaterally influential in how we use our phones and the internet from a place of good faith.


Their signal contact info is listed as a UK # (+447523875547)

It seems like they've gone to a lot of effort to make that hard to figure out. I looked into this for a while and was unable to find anything.

A lot of the articles are also... misleading at best.

I dunno, this site just feels pretty strongly like a misinformation campaign.


https://twitter.com/search?q=until%3A2019-01-01%20to%3A%40Re...

Looks like they've gone by @AlphMedia and @PLRExpress in the past.


> The headline seems intentionally misleading

How so?

> and the entire article is biased

As are most articles on the topic, from either side.

More importantly: is what they say not essentially true?

What matters more: who's "side" someone is on, or what is true?


Questions too tough?

It even quotes Bezos financed Washington Post as a source of their information. WaPo is full of biased, misleading and downright untrue articles about Google and some other Amazon competitors.

Eh? As it repeatedly states, the Washington Post reported it to Google.

what does "take down" mean ? did they turn off public sharing or delete the file ?

Why anyone would trust a corporation with their only copy of anything is mystifying to me anyway.


Since they didn't say delete I'm guessing they stopped the public sharing but that isn't as rage inducing so the article stuck to using "take down" hoping people would interpret it as delete.

It's somewhat unclear, though further down it says this

>Google blocked access to the document.

It's still somewhat unclear to me though.


Oh wow, this is bad! Google went from my favorite geeky company in the 00s to something I would like to avoid now as much as I can. I guess next on their list will be refusing to host any encrypted content on their GDrive just in case it contains something the head honchos at 10E100 don't like... From a disruptor for the better, ending up as an enforcer of the conformity. I guess that's the fate of every winner.

Is it really personal files if it’s used as a file sharing service?

It definitely seems like the “share a Drive file” method was used to widely distribute a video that didn’t comply with Google/YouTube’s policies. And using Drive in that manner is, of course, also a violation of their policies.

The Washington Post contacted Google, Google Drive took down a file featuring the trailer for the Plandemic documentary.

Why is the WaPo out there policing other people's content? That's as bad a Google taking it down.


Neither are bad. A private company can refuse service to a problematic customer violating their TOS. Google is under no obligation to provide free services to liars who are intent upon stirring up trouble.

Think of how many bars ban problematic ex-clientele.

The WaPo is acting in the public interest, for once in their miserable life.

These Plandemic fans are a public health menace, give them no quarter.

Oh, as to the troublemakers: knock it off at once. this is serious.


Google Drive is not meant as a mass distribution service for video. Do they let you use it as a back door streaming service?

It's not a personal file if you share it publicly.

No private business should be forced to use their resources to promote dangerous bullshit.


I cannot believe the bizarro world we've entered.

"the problems that social media companies face: the weaponization of their services to amplify dangerous content"

Wut?


Have you not been paying attention

Better burn those books..

It seems to me that if Google (and the other platforms) don't tackle this kind of thing, the state _somewhere_ will. It only takes one country to make distribution of this stuff illegal or close to it, and that will amount to an edge of self regulation for the tech giants. They don't want that, so they do something to prevent it.

Wouldn't be surprised if this results in a Streissand effect.

totally agree. This is like fuel for an alt-right fire.

Censoring is a losing battle. Because it attacks a symptom.

The cure for ignorance is not trying to hide missinformation (that just empowers the spreaders, gives it credence (they wouldn't bother suppressing it if it weren't true), or drives it into dark places you can no longer detect how much of a problem it is).

The cure is to educate people and teach them critical thinking (both of which are expensive and honestly most governments/companies/people in power don't really want a free thinking populace (they want a populace that believes their propaganda)) and to spread the truth (not that effective on populace who lacks high level of education and critical thinking skills)


I think part of the problem is that the official media-approved narrative on coronavirus-fighting tactics isn't exactly the truth. Like, if you believe the press, the lockdowns and social distancing are a well-established, century-old scientific approach to tackling pandemics and stepping away from them will massively increase the death toll and economic damage. The media position is that even allowing them to be questioned is dangerous and will kill people. In reality, they seem to be a new, previously untested, scientifically controversial approach with little precedent since about the Middle Ages: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/us/politics/social-distan...

This is why, even though anti-lockdown ideas are the realm of conspiracy theorists right now, you can't cure them with information even if their proponents did actually base their worldview on it.

I can't see this ending well. There are just too many signs that the media narrative about what works, why, what we need to do, the evidence, and what the costs and consequences are is diverging from reality, and with challenging them so far beyond the pale that leaves conspiracy theorists tying their claims into opposition to vaccines and wild theories about Bill Gates as the main folks questioning it. It's also getting really ugly and partisan, and not just in the US or amongst Trump supporters.


Most people dont have the capacity for critical thought on every area of ambiguity/complexity. Its too wide a thought surface, and we have too few hours in a day. So we have things like dictionaries in our minds, filled with information via lots of sources from childhood, tv, peers, etc. Human brains arent logical, they are mostly look up systems.

> Most people don't have the capacity for critical thought on every area of ambiguity/complexity.

I'd change that to "most people haven't been taught to think critically". It's clear that the average person has the mental capacity, genetic variations in intelligence aren't that large.


> Most people dont have the capacity for critical thought on every area of ambiguity/complexity.

a) Is critical thinking on "every area of ambiguity/complexity" a true requirement, with respect to the article?

b) How do you think you know what people are or not capable of, especially since we've made practically no effort whatsoever to teach these skills?


What's to be done, then, before we reach sufficient education and critical thinking skills? I mean, that's kind of a boil-the-ocean solution, as you observe. When Trump suggested that ingesting bleach could cure COVID-19, 30 people in NY state were hospitalized the next day for drinking bleach.

Saying "we should all be sufficiently educated and critical thinkers that misinformation is harmless" is effectively no solution at all. What do we do NOW?


I suggest we start publicizing the problem and teaching these skills (critical thinking, epistemically sound thinking and speaking, etc), and using them here.

> I mean, that's kind of a boil-the-ocean solution

It may seem like that, but is it really? Is there some uncertainty involved in the problem space?

> When Trump suggested that ingesting bleach could cure COVID-19, 30 people in NY state were hospitalized the next day for drinking bleach.

If we were to go through the effort of decomposing and explicitly unpacking this sentence, do you think there may be a few epistemic flaws in it, even without taking into account the complexities involved in how others perceive and conceptualize the statement?

> Saying "we should all be sufficiently educated and critical thinkers that misinformation is harmless" is effectively no solution at all. What do we do NOW?

How about we see if the more capable than average minds here at HN are capable of it? This could provide some very valuable insight into how an eventual broader initiative targeting the general public should be designed.

I'm curious to hear objections to this idea...why would doing this right here on HN, perhaps only on an occasional trial basis for designated threads, be a bad idea? And to be clear, I'm not asking whether this is "our responsibility" (it's not) or whether it would "cause us some problems or discomfort" (it surely would), I'm asking for honest, non-evasive answers for why shouldn't we do it? If everyone leaves a problem for someone else to solve, how do we expect it to be solved?


> I suggest we start publicizing the problem and teaching these skills.... and using them here.

When I was in university 30 years ago I took a class in logic that was required for my arts degree just because we needed more critical thinking. We've not had a shortage of emphasis on empiricism and critical thinking in the last few decades.

> Is there some uncertainty involved in the problem space?

Only insofar as "we need to cultivate critical thinking" is still viewed as a valid response to mass hysteria and delusion.

> If we were to go through the effort of decomposing and explicitly unpacking this sentence,

You've mistaken an illustration for an argument.

> How about we see if the more capable than average minds here at HN are capable of it?

The community at lesswrong.com has bred a bunch of officious assholes, and no general improvement in the community of thinking. Also, Silicon Valley is synonymous with the "more capable than average minds here at HN", and what we have to show for it is the globalised ad market destroying local journalism, and an opt-out surveillance network that intelligence agencies couldn't have dreamed of 50 years ago. The more-capable-than-average minds have proven themselves to be more self-absorbed and venal than the most cynical evangelical preacher could have imagined.

My objection to your idea is that we've had ideal conditions over the last two decades for enlightened thinking to dominate, and it has proven to be more effectively un-enlightened than anything that has come before. We've made a wealth of information available at everyone's fingertips, and the result is unparalleled tribalism and cherry-picking.

Seriously: The most obvious con-man possible is president of the United States, at a time when we all know just how awful a human being he is. You can't plausibly suggest that more of the same intellectual diligence is the answer. We've had ready information and endless proselytizing for critical thinking, and the most powerful nation in the world has the least intellectually capable/honest leader possible. Donald Trump is a reductio ad absurdum of your response.


> We've not had a shortage of emphasis on empiricism and critical thinking in the last few decades.

Shortage, with respect to what standard?

And for the magnitude of "empiricism and critical thinking":

a) Are you speaking in absolute or relative terms?

b) How are you performing your measurements, for both the positive and negative types?

>>> What's to be done, then, before we reach sufficient education and critical thinking skills? I mean, that's kind of a boil-the-ocean solution, as you observe. When Trump suggested that ingesting bleach could cure COVID-19, 30 people in NY state were hospitalized the next day for drinking bleach.

>> It may seem like that, but is it really? Is there some uncertainty involved in the problem space?

> Only insofar as "we need to cultivate critical thinking" is still viewed as a valid response to mass hysteria and delusion.

That's the only uncertainty you're able to see? Nothing regarding what actually constitutes "critical thinking", how we teach it, how we measure it (that it is actually occurring, where it is occurring (or not), and how successful it is), what domains we apply it to, etc?

>>> When Trump suggested that ingesting bleach could cure COVID-19, 30 people in NY state were hospitalized the next day for drinking bleach.

>> If we were to go through the effort of decomposing and explicitly unpacking this sentence, do you think there may be a few epistemic flaws in it, even without taking into account the complexities involved in how others perceive and conceptualize the statement?

> You've mistaken an illustration for an argument.

a) I don't see the importance of the distinction in this case. What was the intended meaning you wanted to communicate to readers when you chose to include that specific sentence?

b) You dodged the question. If you prefer to not discuss specific epistemic details regarding statements you make, that's fine by me, but I prefer to converse in an explicit, transparent manner, in order to minimize rhetorical techniques.

>> How about we see if the more capable than average minds here at HN are capable of it?

> The community at lesswrong.com has bred a bunch of officious assholes, and no general improvement in the community of thinking. Also, Silicon Valley is synonymous with the "more capable than average minds here at HN", and what we have to show for it is the globalised ad market destroying local journalism, and an opt-out surveillance network that intelligence agencies couldn't have dreamed of 50 years ago. The more-capable-than-average minds have proven themselves to be more self-absorbed and venal than the most cynical evangelical preacher could have imagined.

Is it a fair interpretation of your comment to be roughly something like:

a) you are not in support of trying to see if we can find a way to improve critical thinking (and discussion) skills here at HN?

b) attempts at this in other communities have failed, therefore it logically follows that it will fail here also?

If that is a misinterpretation of your words, would you be willing to explain more clearly what your intended meaning is?

> My objection to your idea is that we've had ideal conditions over the last two decades...

What variables are you measuring, how do you measure them (current values, and past values), and how do you know they are ideal?

> ...for enlightened thinking to dominate, and it has proven to be more effectively un-enlightened than anything that has come before. We've made a wealth of information available at everyone's fingertips, and the result is unparalleled tribalism and cherry-picking.

Are you asserting that we have already taken a perfectly optimal approach, it failed, and all subsequent attempts will also fail (despite the values of many variables having changed)? If so, how are you measuring these things, and how can the future be predicted with confidence in a scenario involving so many variables, many of which are incredibly difficult to measure, and many that we likely don't even know are relevant, or even exist?

And if this isn't what you're asserting...then what are you asserting?

> The most obvious con-man possible is president of the United States

The most obvious one. But, do you proclaim to know that he is the biggest "con" in the game, or might there be other people, organizations, or informal entities running cons too?

> You can't plausibly suggest that more of the same intellectual diligence is the answer.

No, that's the opposite of what I'm suggesting. I am suggesting we start thinking more critically. Speak in objective, confirmable facts, rather than colorful rhetoric and heuristic based narratives that cannot be strongly substantiated with evidence and reason. Let's speak in matters of fact, rather than matters of opinion, or at least be honest(!) when we're passing off the latter as the former. Let's realize and acknowledge that we all get psychologically "triggered" when running up against an argument that is contrary to our heuristic axioms. Let's realize and acknowledge that we don't see and experience infinitely complex reality directly, but only perceive it through our limited senses and incredibly complex, poorly understood cognitive processes. And furthermore, most people aren't even in direct contact with the physical reality related to the complex, high resolution opinions they hold, but have rather constructed an internal mental model based on consuming information provided by third parties, which is subject to not only all the shortcomings listed here, but also the fact that much of it is very obvious propaganda, subject to framing, cherry picking and twisting of statistics, censorship, and many other things...the end result being that our perception of reality is often comically disjointed from actual reality.

And let's also realize that there is an incredibly strong reluctance on HN to realize and acknowledge all these obvious truths during conversations like this, that people have very confident opinions, but if someone challenges them, rarely is anyone able to defend them with without resorting to more subjective narratives with no supporting evidence.


> When Trump suggested that ingesting bleach could cure COVID-19, 30 people in NY state were hospitalized the next day for drinking bleach.

You have a point in general, but that specific example sounds like natural selection doing a good job.


I understand that corporations are private entities and currently within their legal rights to remove content.

This means, if they so choose, they could remove speech they oppose form youtube, google search, and emails.

Why are most people comfortable with a reactionary approach to this problem, and waiting to see if they exercise this right in a disagreeable manner? Wouldn't it be better to develop a solution before the need arises and legislate a clear limit?


Do the same rules apply to google cloud storage... or really any google cloud resource?

Last I checked anything under GSuite has very different rules than consumer Gmail accounts.

Anti-Google article -> Brave ad -> Eye roll.

I did not expect to see platform censorship accelerate at this rate. It always seems to be government and media dictating the terms of the censorship as well, which should be very concerning.

> It always seems to be government and media dictating the terms of the censorship as well, which should be very concerning.

I'm not incredibly shocked. This is on some levels history repeating itself. Media has historically been 'self-regulating', if only because they want to avoid having regulations imposed on them.

However, this also has the not-unintentional side effect of those self regulating bodies also acting as gatekeepers.

Another parallel to draw: When the Hays code was challenged due to 1FA, the MPAA created the 'rating' system, in which movies have their content rated on by an unknown group of people impose their moral code, and remember before the age of the internet, you -had- to hit certain ratings to have any hope of a decent number of people seeing your movie. Any Adults-only rating would result in the overwhelming majority of theaters refusing to show the film.

Sure, you could still release it somewhere else.

Sound familiar?


Then they aren't really

your

personal files, are they?


This headline is very misleading. They didn't delete the file from the user's Google Drive - they disabled public sharing for the file.

Ok, we've swapped out the article title for its subtitle.

[flagged]


An enormous difference. When you share a file publicly, it's Google doing the sharing.

When a file is privately stored and accessible only to you, Google doesn't have to know or care what's inside it.


[flagged]


Your take is an overreaction.

All of the big file hosting platforms have long had copyright and child porn content filters. The fact that they are policing ToS violations (presumably only after they are reported or scripting re-violations) doesn't seem anywhere near 1984-style censorship.

I do fear that this will give the tin foil hats more conviction that "there's something to it since they are hiding it!" and not more motivation to be skeptical of this particular thread of inquiry about the pandemic.


OK... How would I find out from Google why they deleted original content written by me and stored in my account?

How do I effectively appeal the action?


[flagged]


This is certainly a convenient opportunity for every First Amendment advocate to defend speech they don't like. Or would be, if the government was the one taking action.

Nobody's stopping them from signing up for AWS and throwing the vid into an S3 bucket or whatever, nor are they prevented from buying internet access from a company that offers static IPs and serving the file from an old PC in someone's closet.

Until AWS and that ISP apply the same policy...

Looks like they are flexing all the work done for Project Dragonfly. Waste not, want not.

Good point. There could be a new free-speech AI project for time-based "declassification" of previously censored material, to inform public study of censorship technologies.

In a slightly parallel universe, it’s going to be quite hilarious if all of the decentralised technologies are going to end up being developed by the types of anti-vaxxers, holocaust deniers, neo-nazis because they were the only ones needing them (and not the illusory political dissidents). So in the end it’s going to have a positive impact.

Here’s a supporting example: Snowden didn’t need any of this tech to share it with us. Paedophiles and drug dealers use Tor.

I am not being entirely serious.


It's not that simple. In the west it's the "alt right" or similar that needs to bypass censorship. But in China, it's pro-democracy people.

Even inside a country, it changes. Dissenters 50 years ago are not the same ones as today. The left protested globalization 20 years ago; today it's the right.

My point is: we should let all ideas out there and not fight to censor the other side. Fight ideas with arguments and evidence, not censorship.


This is gross and unethical but we should let them continue digging their own grave.

What about them restricting the visibility of a video in response to a violation of their policies is 'unethical' and 'gross'?

They also don't allow sharing porn, or for people to use the service as a CDN, is that 'unethical'?


I don't think they are digging their own grave unfortunately. The majority of people seem to be Ok with this, and the majority will continue to use these platforms. I still use these platforms even though I hate what they are doing. We really do need some alternatives...

There are alternatives, but they don't have a free tier.

Regarding the sharing of controversial video content, isn't Bitchute pretty much a free alternative?

How much further do we let them dig? What line do we point to that they don't erode like the rest?

Further proof that when you upload a file to Google Drive, you don’t own that file, they do

You use the platform, you abide by the contract. My only concern is that contract violations (or even gray area violations) are not always predictable by the customer because the legalese in the ToS is so vague.

You are overloading the term "own" and your use of "that file" is ambiguous. You "own" (in many senses) the local copy of the uploaded file. You only lease the space and hosting for the remote copy, assuming you pay your bill and abide by the contract. My coworker overflowed his Google Drive quota and learned that lesson the hard way.


> My coworker overflowed his Google Drive quota and learned that lesson the hard way.

This sounds a lot more sinister than "my coworker had to delete some files to go back under his quota".


He lost many MBs of files. He had a local filesystem directory synced with GDrive. He moved (didn't copy) lots of files into the directory and ended up losing all copies of some of the files (we still aren't sure how it picks which subset to keep). It was basically a few weeks of work because he didn't understand the implications of the change (and because he didn't have drive backups).

Good. A private entity (corp) exercises it's right to free speech.

Google is under no obligation to provide services for anyone it deems troublesome.

Would you question a bartender or bar staff for refusing entry to a problematic client?





Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: