Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Suspended from Google Play for listing supported subtitle formats (github.com/moneytoo)
618 points by moneytoo 77 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 333 comments

I run a small company and offer an app to monitor sales reps work. Managers use it also to see how much time employees spend in the field. To count how much time is spend in some specific location my app uses background location updates.

10 years ago I was distributing just the apk file. Then I moved to Play store. It turned out that most people on their company owned Android devices don't configure Play Store. App updates are disabled until you log in. So I had to educate my customer employees how to log in to Play Store and install my app. The additional benefit was that people had security updates of Chrome and other apps.

Two months ago my app was suspended after I made all necessary changes to support Android 10. The Gbot claims that background location updates aren't essential for my app. As you may guess I wrote appeal without success. My customers pay mainly for that time report feature but Gbot knows better what my paying customers want.

And I just do not care about securing my customer devices and Play Store any longer. Now I distribute apk files again and train people how to install apk files from unknown sources.

Good - There's a clear theme in the motivations of both major mobile OS companies here:

You, a 3rd party developer making custom software products for a mobile platform, are no longer allowed to have customers yourself.

Instead you must grovel and beg and pray that our lords Apple/Google consent to allow you to rent their customers.

This consent can be revoked at any time, you will pay through the nose for it (20%+ of total mobile revenue), and for basically all but the largest of customers - this consent is machine based and you will never be able to get a living person to so much as glance at any content you put into the process.


Fuck em both.

What's currently stopping some third party from creating a fork of Android with a better store? Are there closed-source parts of Android that can't be easily replicated? Is it the difficulty of getting any major phone manufacturers to agree to install it? Or something else or all of the above?

> What's currently stopping some third party from creating a fork of Android with a better store?

A huge piece of it is the network effect of starting with a store that lacks a significant number of apps available on the Play store. Sure, a competitor could, over time, grow their store to be competitive, or they could fail to tread water and go the way of Windows phones.

A competitor would have to get most/all of the phone manufacturers to all at once drop Google Play and use their ecosystem instead, otherwise no one would bother publishing apps for it. There's no way to ramp up a competitor because users won't tolerate a subpar app selection. See Amazon's Fire Phone launch for what happens when one manufacturer tries to start their own ecosystem.

It's actually very easily possible. Apart from Samsung, the largest phone manufacturers are all Chinese, and currently under sanction by the US government, with more soon on the way. Out of the Chinese bunch, the majority are Huawei. Huawei has been forced to move into a non-Playstore Android OS.

I use a burner Huawei for non-essential Android stuff. Every time I click the "Rate App" button on apps, it redirects me to Huawei store instead of Play Store. Every time I click the "Download" or "Install" button on the browser, it sends me to Huawei store. I think we can expect to see more changes in the coming two years as Android keeps updating. Huawei phones up until 2018 are allowed to use the Google SDKs but none are allowed from 2019.

The only one left behind is Samsung, which has the wherewithal to create its own (Apple clone) app store. If they go ahead with that, Google Play will be a fucking joke at that point.

i cant see how using a chinese based app store is any better than google/apple

if anything,you're more open to potential exposure of your data ,bad verification practices and CCP intelligence gathering

I didn't say that Huawei is the gold standard. Just that Huawei has already begun its own app store, and if Samsung does it too (and pushes it aggressively like Huawei does), Google Play will be done in no time.

The new Huawei phones don't have Play store or any Google services.

Galaxy store is alive and well on Samsung phones.

But they aren't taking a hard stance like Huawei. Like redirecting to their store.

When I click a play store link, it asks me which store to open it with. And I can set galaxy store as default.

On Android there are 3rd party stores. F-Droid being a popular one with FOSS apps.

Major difference is that only the Play Store can install apps in the background. That is, unless you root your phone.

Amazon tried and even with giving away hundreds of dollars in free apps every year they still failed. People just don’t want to use an alternative that has warnings of security holes.

The Google play framework is closed source and used by most apps.

Yep, these content aggregators have become consumer aggregators. They make money by controlling our attention in the webverse

Me, a customer, is very happy that they play a regulatory role and are taking steps to prevent surveillance of the form GP is proposing.

I’m glad that I don’t have a direct relationship with shady 3rd party developers.

They aren't preventing surveillance at all, they're monopolizing it.

Google is LITERALLY a fucking ad company.

Apple is tracking the exact time and location you use any piece of software on their systems (Don't worry guys, it's just for security purposes! /s)


I'm no longer sympathetic to the "They're securing my device from the boogeyman!" argument.

It has the same overtures as "Won't anyone think of the children!!!!" in policy debates - It's rhetoric designed to obfuscate the true intentions of the parties involved, and short-circuit real discussion with an immediate emotional response.

> Apple is tracking the exact time and location...


A few months ago it came out that MacOS was constantly making unencrypted calls over the internet to check signatures of non-Apple software; such calls were thus feeding back to Apple (and anyone sniffing the connection) the time and IP address of each application's being opened. (Technically, only the company, but each company usually only has a few apps.)


I appreciate the further context, but am not sure that it was necessary to mock my phrasing.

(I wrote a giant response to this explaining why I was frustrated and who I was frustrated with and how it meant we were just screwed as a society, but I have decided to just suffice it to note that I am not mocking your phrasing--that is the correct phrasing for the demoralizing thought--and that, FWIW, I don't think iOS does this in the same way, even for the "enterprise"-signed software where one would expect it would work identically, which is a bit hilarious.)

Ah okay, sorry for overreacting.

And it wasn't true as stated (it didn't happen every time, the server didn't keep any logs, etc.)

>it didn't happen every time

True, but it didn't make much difference, since the reports from the thread showed it had a bizarrely short cache time.

>the server didn't keep any logs

Well, that's the rub isn't, it? Part of privacy-centric design is that you shouldn't have to risk such information being exposed or trust such reassurances; if they don't need the information, they shouldn't get it at all. There are privacy-respecting ways to do what they wanted to, which are also more efficient. For example, periodically update the machine's local revoked cert list, and check signatures against that (as several users recommended).


Was there anything substantively different from my characterization?

Short retention according to who? That server only? No copies to the NSA? I’m a trust but verify kind of guy and with just the word of Apple I assume somebody is keeping the data and using it in some way.

Agree with such skepticism but what are you replying to there? My comment was saying that it cached the cert check for a bizarrely short time (necessitating frequent network calls), not that the logs were retained for only a short time, which I agree is a bad defense.

Thanks for the clarification. I confused the cert cache with the apple server logs.

Apple is using an industry standard protocol to check and see if an application's developer certificate has been revoked.

>To make sure the certificate hasn’t been revoked, macOS uses OCSP—short for the industry standard Online Certificate Status Protocol—to check its validity.


There is no information tracking the application that is sent.

The protocol is only used to check and see if the developer's certificate is still valid, if the app hasn't been run in some time.


> I’m glad that I don’t have a direct relationship with shady 3rd party developers.

To enable background locations update, a sales rep has to open a check-in screen, wait 10 seconds to see their location on the map and then press the big check-in button. Because people were often forgetting to check-out, my customers requested auto check-out feature which requires background location updates. Once a sales rep leaves the check-in area, background location updates are stopped. Managers and employees see exactly the same time reports. And if some sales rep is suspicious then it is always possible to disable that GPS icon in the quick menu settings after work hours. It is almost like using your batch card to open doors in a workplace.

A popular alternative solution to my app is to use GSP devices which are installed in all corporate cars. And there managers see their employees background location updates 24/7.

When it's an explicit feature your argument is a difficult one to hold.

It amounts to not being able to use features that are available in the API.

Android already has a very fine grained permission system that allows blocking such behavior, you simply revoke an apps right to access location data.

So the argument then becomes an appeal to protect less knowledgeable users that would be tricked to enable advanced features for some eye candy. It has some merit; but there has to be some compromise there for advanced users, short of relegating then to APK install with no security updates, like in the Windows days.

I run a small company, and offer local business financial services.

A few years ago, I setup my Google My Business listing for my retail location.

Late last year I was trying to do a GSUITE account data export. It requires you to setup 2FA and I couldn't get it to work - so I asked our MSP to help since they help with other stuff. They had better luck, but multiple switching of the 2FA options and recovery emails/phone numbers caused an automatic suspension on the admin account.

I was able to quickly unlock the account with another admin account, but the suspension cascaded to Google My Business, which remains suspended because GSUITE support only support their core apps.

As you can imagine, my appeal went unresponded, and here we are, months later, with no business listing, and literally no ability to contact anyone that can help.

I wonder how many other businesses have stories like this.

Way to go. Someone gave me an old unlocked Android phone that had almost no apps installed. Playing around with it, I removed all the installed apps and somehow I managed to also disable (break) PlayStore so that it does not work, refuses to update. If there is way to fix it, I surmise it is well beyond the capabilities of the average Android user. AFAICT PlayStore cannot communicate with the mothership to heal itself nor send user data; anyway there are no PlayStore apps installed.

I installed a few useful F-Droid apks. Installing from "untrusted" sources seems far more reliable than any "app store". Besides the F-Droid apps I use it like a dumb phone with maps on a different cellular network. I wish there were more reliable sources for apks, like F-Droid, including apks for older Android versions.

Please sign up as a witness at the next congressional hearings.

Someone needs to make a website for Google suspensions. Let people post these stories. I have mine.

ASS subtitles are particularly popular in anime fansubbing as it allows for advanced typesetting.

You can take it pretty far: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9AgMlHJe7Y

I just watched a fansub recently where they replaced some environmental text in the background, and they used the ASS format to render the english text out of focus and seamlessly match the depth-of-field effect used in the show. Some groups really go above and beyond.

Definitely. For example, MTBB's subtitles for Kimi no Na wa are very impressive.

There's a short showcase of them on YouTube (spoilers): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_c-eKTisI0

It's a shame you basically cannot get anything close to the quality of fansubs from any commercial/legal options.

> It's a shame you basically cannot get anything close to the quality of fansubs from any commercial/legal options.

Fansubbers work for the shows they love while the commercial distributors just pick the cheapest option to get the thing done ASAP, don't matter how sh*tty the result is. There is no chance for quality here.

The same happens with Blurays x rips streams: piracy is the best option (no DRM, no unskippable screens, no ads, no regional restrictions).

Hardware decoders have memory limits and can't render SSA subtitles, which were designed by an insane person and require emulation of quirks of the Win32 font APIs plus a custom buggy implementation of 3D text rendering. (As far as I know, there are only three implementations and I wrote one of them.)

But also, Crunchyroll uses the fansub toolset and SSA subtitles.

The quality of fansubbing varies greatly depending on the translator too. For example, Crunchyroll uses ASS format for their own subtitles (things licensed from other studios seems to use a simpler format), and some translators do a really good job very similar to the fansubbers.

Case in point, I remember watching "Is the Order a Rabbit S3" in Crunchyroll, the English subtitles are pretty basic but the Portuguese (Brazillian) subtitles are great, including things like Karaoke in opening and ending.

> Fansubbers work for the shows they love while the commercial distributors just pick the cheapest option to get the thing done ASAP, don't matter how sh*tty the result is. There is no chance for quality here.

I wouldn’t call subtitles that require about a GB of RAM to process and don’t even get 20fps on an i7-6700 "quality". That’s just a bunch of shitty hacks people accept because there’s no alternative.

ASS is a horrible format (three implementations, only a single well-working implementation, performance hungry, etc), and almost all of the benefits of ASS can also be had with e.g. TTML without the issues.

And stuff like rendering the same line hundreds of times to get a gradient effect or blurred background is absolutely wasteful, especially because it’s just a hack to work around the broken ASS limitations.

Probably because they are forced to use really shitty subbing formats for assisted text in some compliance format :|

Edit: Are those baked into the video or did they just use the ASS format?

They use the ASS format and the text isn't baked into the video. Here's the same video with the softsubs toggled on and off: https://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/10459

Even the old-school analog EIA-608 captioning system can do positional captions. It's all these modern web players (like Youtube's) that have regressed to a single line of text bottom-center.

YouTube actually supports it through a feature called WebVTT [0], though it is rarely used, an example of it is this video [1] where it is used for placement and lighting up text for karaoke.

The actual code for it is looks like this:

  00:03:31.485 --> 00:03:31.719 align:start position:0% line:0%
  <c.color96D2D3>Hey! nanika ga okoru spe cial </c><c.colorFEFEFE>night</c>
  00:03:31.485 --> 00:03:31.719 align:start position:0% line:0%
  <c.color96D2D3>Hey! nanika ga okoru spe cial </c><c.colorFEFEFE>night</c>
  00:03:31.719 --> 00:03:32.486 align:start position:0% line:0%
  <c.color96D2D3>Hey! nanika ga okoru special  night</c>
  00:03:31.719 --> 00:03:32.486 align:start position:0% line:0%
  <c.color96D2D3>Hey! nanika ga okoru special  night</c>

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebVTT [1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AufydOsiD6M

Just a heads up for anyone who want to see the karaoke, set the CC language to Japanese.

Here's another good example: https://youtu.be/ddWJatRxfz8

And again, set language to Japanese.

Actually most modern systems support image embedding, animations, styling, and positioning with TTML. It’s an official spec, supported by every television, Netflix, Chromecast, etc.

It’s also a format no fansubber ever heard of.

TTML is also supported by pretty much every piece of m pptultimedia equipment out there including chromecast , which is the exact opposite of ASS which is supported by basically nothing.

The fansubbing community is so annoying with its insistence on terrible formats. The community has somehow standardized on 10bit hevc with ASS subtitles. That makes releases so hard to play.

And while there are ways to implement ASS in the browser, those require compiling the one single ASS library that actually works (because it’s an implementation-defined format, ofc) to WASM and running that in the browser. With the expected performance issues.

Now try running that on a Chromecast >_>

The fansubbing community is just so stuck in weird formats which provide no benefit except a virtual moat preventing newcomers.

Can you watch Crunchyroll on a Chromecast? They at least use ASS in the browser.

Sure, but only the english subtitle, and you can’t disable it. For Chromecast, you have to use the burned-in subtitles.

Which is expected, considering the hardware just isn’t powerful enough for ASS subtitles (to get good performance, even on a desktop you’ll want a recent CPU and at least 1-2GB of RAM): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromecast#Model_comparison

You can definitely still do some interesting things with YouTube subtitles;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cqqGOvOGfI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvO8kcWFFT0

I honestly find the idea of the English text inside of the picture as such, blending in perfectly with the scene to be most disorienting.

It suggests that the character itself is writing the English text, or that it magically appears.

If it were simple subtitles, it would be clear that these were translations, and that in the actual story there is only Japanese text.

Notwithstanding the impressive technological nature of it, but that also seems the reason they did so. Methinks it's a case of using cool technology because one can, even though it doesn't produce a more convenient result, however cool it might look.

I cannot agree after watching shows which embedded text well.

Your argument kinda sounds right when you just imagine it... but doesn't hold weight once you actually experience them.

If this text isn't done like this then you have to either omit it entirely, possibly leaving out relevant details, or just put them next to the normal subtitles. The latter doesn't work at all for me, because I can't distinguish which text relates to what quick enough.

It can be overlayed at the correct place, without blending into the picture.

For instance translating the text on a piece of paper by writing the translation above the piece of paper.

How it is written in this case, in charcoal, on the paper, in perspective, seamlessly blending into the paper, makes it seem as if, for whatever reason, the same text was written twice on the paper in English and Japanese.

It's even more unnerving when the text be written and the English pencil charcoal appears out of thin air next to the Japanese charcoal that emerges from a pencil.

Would you know if they are tracking the text frame by frame? That's quite the dedication if they are.

The most popular subtitling software has a script/plugin to export video, which can then be used in a motion tracking program, the data from which can be fed back into the subtitling program.

The few groups that used to do that have stopped making fansubs. Mostly because HorribleSubs took a lot of the market share by just ripping CruncyRoll subs and re-packaging with RAWs.

But now that HS is gone, I'm not sure what's happening to the scene. There is a power vacuum and I'm not sure if anyone took up the space.

I don't want to name them here, but a new group has popped up that does the exactly same thing HorribleSubs did.

Erai-raws has been at it for a while now.

They rip the subs too? I assumed they just ripped the raw video because of their name.

The few anime I've watched from their releases all had subtitles.

There are definitely still anime fansub groups active, although not nearly as many as there used to be.

Mostly they seem to work on shows that haven't been licensed by official simulcast sources, or that are licensed but aren't being released on a timely schedule (ahem Netflix), or projects that for whatever reason they think the official releases haven't done justice to.

Aside from HorribleSubs, these days you can hardly throw a rock without hitting a major streaming service that offers anime. Setting aside whatever free episodes you can get from Crunchyroll et al., Netflix, Amazon, Hulu... the list goes on. And for the majority of people, the services are convenient enough to outweigh whatever video quality advantage that HS or subtitle quality advantage (some) fansub groups offered.

The show I watched was a recent release, but it went through Netflix jail so I guess that's why it got the high-quality fansub treatment. There weren't any official subtitles for groups like HorribleSubs to yoink day of release which bought time for a high-effort group to do their thing.

Subsplease seem to have replaced them.

Isn't that basically crunchyroll taking most of the market by doing sub translations in the first place? Kind of like the netflix / spotify effect on piracy.

Groups like that are a dying breed. Many of them simply fell apart as key individuals quit or drifted away from the scene.

So the translated “fidget” parts are not hardsubbed but actually encoded in a subtitle format and therein animated to move around with the Japanese text?

Quite impressive, notwithstanding the use of bourgeois harem as example material.

Yup. Recently there have been tools that will track selected things for you, but it wasn't too long ago when fansubbers had to manually animate them by annotating keyframes.

That's correct.

> ASS subtitles are particularly popular in anime fansubbing as it allows for advanced typesetting.

Those are just "SSA" subtitles. The difference mattered (ASS was an "Advanced SSA") once but now people just call it "ASS" as a joke. So Google is sort-of right, he could leave it out of the description.

I doubt this guy knows this since it's impossible he implemented SSA on his own due to how complex it is.

Potentially NSFW (heh this is kinda pointless atm).

Also wow, I'm guessing you need to adjust the subtitle with every frame, old-school animation style?

The ASS format has some basic animation with the \move command (moving subtitles using linear interpolation) and the \t command (changing various properties of a line with the possibility of quadric interpolation). This takes care of some cases, but is often insufficient for complex stuff.

Aegisub however has good automation support, and has (had?) a pretty active scripting community. Scripts can do a lot of stuff and often has simple dialog-box UIs. The base scripting support is in Lua, but a lot of scripts are written in a Lua variant called Moonscript. I've never seen it used anywhere else. And, as was mentioned in a sibling comment, there are scripts for importing motion-tracking files into Aegisub.

The ASS format lacks support for a bunch of stuff that people want to do, or the native support is deficient in some manner, so scripting is very important for Aegisub. For example, a line can be given a color gradient by make a one copy of the line for each shade in the gradient (this can be 100+ times). Each copy is then given a different color according to the gradient, and a \clip command is used on each line to only show a 1-2 pixel wide slice of each line. If all those slices are lined up properly and the lines are displayed simultaneously, it gives the impression of being a single line with a color gradient. Tricks like this can actually cause performance problems in rendering the subtitles!

I think this is an interesting little programming niche, but there isn't much complex typesetting being done these days. Tastes have changed, and due to licensed releases there's less need for fansubbing on all but the most niche titles.

The subtitles are basically adjusted every frame but you don't necessarily have to do it by hand. You can for example generate motion data with Blender or Mocha and import that into Aegisub (the software that is used to create the subtitle files).



Before newer tools automated the process by tracking motion of a target, folks wouldn't have to adjust them frame by frame per se but would instead annotate the subtitle script with keyframe times and positions. The video player would know to interpolate between those annotations.

(Shameless plug for an abandoned project.) If you want to try out the ASS format for yourself in the comfort of your web browser: https://arnavion.github.io/libjass/demo/

Commie should be a national treasure

Warning: NSFW for those clicking this

Time to go back to distributing direct apk files and setting up self-hosted stores to manage updates.

The Play Store was supposed to be only an interface for searching and installing packages, like aptitude or yum.

Then it started taking arbitrary decisions "for the benefit of the users" (of course, Google always knows what's best for its users, even more than the users themselves).

Then, like the guy who loves the smells of his own farts even when everybody around him disagrees, they decided that their process was indeed so good that it could have been completely automated, with almost no human touch and no possibility for developers and users to appeal.

And now it ended up being this Kafka novel where you're stuck in the gears of the process and you don't know why, nor when a real human will actually take a look at your case.

And, in the meantime, you lose traffic and users, but Google doesn't seem to care.

Time to start boycotting the Play Store. There's plenty of alternative stores, it's easy to set up one yourself for your apps, and you can always distribute your apk files through your website.

Why is the comment suggesting f-droid killed? So many comments are [dead] on here for no good reason lately. F-Droid seems like a decent idea to me.

That user appears to be shadowbanned; all of their comments start off as dead until someone vouches for them.

Why not use PWAs?

Or use an actually free (as in freedom) app store.


Some one said, and was downvoted into oblivion (?)...

" Yup, that's about how much effort I expected them to put into their app store: absolutely nothing beyond cheap, automated heuristics. Why invest in a decent ecosystem when you're one of the two options in town?

I'm about an inch away from throwing my phone in the river and switching to a GPS-only device for navigating in my car. All the convenience a mobile device offers can't make up for the crap software experience you're forced into—literally ransoming the use of your phone through their company store. "

Me too! I have ordered and am awaiting my Pine Phone for this exact reason.

I literally own a pinephone so dont misunderstand me as disagreeing, but you could always just stay on Android and use F-Droid.

Google put limits in Android such that the Play Store is the only app distribution method that can implement background installation of apps, batch installations of apps and automatic upgrading.

F-Droid provides those features only if you're able to root your phone, which manufacturers actively try to stop users from doing. Also, rooting your phone opens it up to vulnerabilities and exploits.

If you have root and/or install an alternative store as a privileged system app, it will be able to install apps in the background just like Play Store.


But there are (a) services I cannot turn off and (b) apps I really need on android.

Perhaps F-Droid would help with (a) but not (b)

SO I plan to have a cheep android for the one app I cannot do without and the Pine phone for everything else...

But time will tell

I use lineageos (pure foss fork of android, with the exception of firmware) without installing google play services. It works pretty well!

Same here! LineageOS, Magisk, F-Droid and Termux are mandatory "sanity patches" on Android for me.

I guess the Scunthorpe problem is still a thing.


My particular favorite is this one: "In October 2020 a profanity filter banned the word bone at a paleontology conference."


Why are we letting tech companies treat us like children?

Once I confirm to them I'm an adult, I should be able to choose to see everything.

A long time ago, I saw a guy unable to post on a corporate blog of his own team. Turned out that his name was flagged by a filter.

What made this particularly egregious is that the name in question: "Hui" - wasn't even a swear word in either his own native language - Chinese - nor in English. But it closely resembles a Russian profanity. Turned out that the filter was "multilingual", and applied rules for all languages to all posts...

Why the hell would it even apply Russian filters to something that isn't written in Cyrillic? And this isn't the best English transliteration of that word either... That's really some dedication.

Yeah, they would have to do literal translation based on phonetics. That is just insane.

> they would have to do literal translation based on phonetics.

That seems pretty unlikely to have happened here; I don't know the Russian word in question, but the Chinese "hui" rhymes with English "clay". (It also rhymes with the more sensibly spelled Chinese "wei"; the 'e' is only omitted when the syllable begins with a consonant. Compare "feng shui".) I'd be surprised if that were a possible reading of any Russian that might be transliterated "hui".

A native Russian speaker who is familiar with how Russian is usually transliterated, but unfamiliar with Chinese, would read it very similar to the Russian word in question ("khoo-y").

As to why the filter was applied to Latin characters - I'm not sure, but I'm assuming that's to prevent people from using translit to sneak in profanities. Of course, this ends up being a pointless game of whack-a-mole - there's so many possible ways to spell something like that with Unicode...

Huh, I looked up the word. хуй?

Looks like Russians and Americans can find common ground on thinking Chinese last names look like "penis", even if we're making fun of Wang and they're making fun of Hui.

In Chinese socialism is shè huì zhǔ yì, which had to be intentionally misromanized as шэхуэйчжуи to avoid dick jokes.

What's the mistake? Look up; хуэй is a much better representation of the pronunciation of 会 than хуй would be. The pinyin spelling "hui" omits the primary vowel of the syllable.

As another native Russian speaker, "i" isn't the most common transliteration for "й", and that's what bothers me here. "Hui" would be a plural, with an "и". Й is usually written as "y" or "j". Except when you're getting an international passport, then there's a good chance your name will end with "ii" because the federal migration service hates you.

It's not the most common transliteration, but it's common enough; and even in Cyrillic, if you see "и" where "й" would normally be expected, you'd usually read it like the latter; e.g. "йод" is sometimes spelled "иод", but everybody will read it the same. Given that the written distinction between и/й dates back to Peter's civil script reform, and that it wasn't even considered a separate letter of the alphabet until the 1918 spelling reform, it's not really surprising.

Hm. I thought Й was being used in the old style (pre-1918) writing as well? At least this[1] translator keeps it in masculine adjectives. Though it doesn't keep the dots on a Ё. I've never seen И substituted for Й, but Ё -> Е is common, especially in names (for example some people write "Артем" but everyone still reads it as if there's a "ё").

[1] http://slavenica.com

It was used before 1918 - it was first standardized in the Civil Script (1710). But it wasn't considered a separate letter until 1918 - so e.g. the standard alphabetic sorting ignored the distinction. For this reason, it wasn't always used consistently, although it was still much more consistent than Ё. And even today, "иод" is still considered valid spelling; indeed, it's the preferred one in scientific context.

This still shows up in some contexts - e.g. Й, like Ё, isn't used in bullet lists; try it in Word - it'll go from И straight to К.

I'm just agog that people are still doing dumb pattern matching for profanity filters. I just assumed that YEARS AGO people realized how dumb it is, but apparently: No.

This is Google. It's probably very smart pattern matching for profanity.

The neural network may have taken millions of core-hours to learn to be as dumb (here) as a blind keyword search.

We had to give up our privacy to create a highly sophisticated technology that doesn't even work half of the time. I love the future, it was totally worth it.

Well, obviously. If it were a dumb profanity filter then it would be possible to fix it!

I once had a bug that I traced back to a rule (can’t remember in which part of the stack - though I think it was client controlled IIS) that was striping the “select” from the word “selected” in query string params in an attempt to thwart sql injection. From memory it was naive enough that “sselectelect” was converted nicely in the process.

Similar: Yahoo used to (2002) replace any instance of the character sequence 'eval' (and other 'bad' strings) in their emails, in an attempt to prevent Javascript exploits. Needless to say it created a small amount of havoc!



I hadn't heard of this and I'm now flabbergasted. Is it even legal for a service provider to secretly change email contents? It's absolutely outlandish to imagine how someone first thought this could be a good idea, and then found someone capable of executing the plan and apparently agree.

I had similar issues, the software is Mod Security that some hosting companies use and some rules will empty out your POST request field if it contained text like ".... select ...from..." where the 2 keywords were paragraphs apart.

Not super relevant or anything but I just can't help but share my favorite profanity filter story, so here you go.

I worked at a place that had a profanity filter in two parts.

The first part was in C, several pages of if (!strcmp(x, a)) return 0;

After all that, it then invokes popen() to ssh to another machine and run a shell script there, which contains several more pages of string comparisons, this time in shell.

Doesn't popen() pass strings to a shell? Sounds dangerous, as you would have to escape semicolons, quotes, etc.

I might be wrong but I think it's about censoring the 'hell' in 'shell'. Because some parts of the world consider words like 'hell' and 'damn' to be profane.

Hold on, what? Okay, return false if they aren't equal, then open another process to repeat this method once again in the shell... I can't guess the reason. Would you know if there is any reason this might have been done?

I wouldn't know the real reason for sure, but this seems plausible:

1) They got tired of having to modify C code and wait for the deploy cycle to modify the filter

2) Using, for example, the database would be more work than calling a shell script. On top of that, it might actually be beyond the abilities of the programmer involved.

3) The C code executes on an arbitrary machine. Hence the ssh to a specific machine, so that the shell script would only have to be maintained in one place

strcmp returns 0 if the strings are equal.

A great many places do this and automatically refuse content based on arbitrary “bad words” regardless the context.

I remember being denied to post a forum post containing the phrase “tardive dyskinesia”, as it appears that it rejected anything with the string “tard” in it.

I'm not sure as to whom they think to be helping with that, but it's entirely possible that their advertisement revenue will actually suffer, if the string “tard” be found on their pages.

FWIW, general profanity detection is a highly nontrivial problem. It’s true that such subword profanity filters aren’t that great, but slightly more sophisticated ones (eg whole word matching or n-grams) tend to have relatively good precision. You could train a fancy neural network, but the overall return on precision and recall tends to be not that great (compared to the exponential change in speed and cost). The problem almost always crops up in out-of-distribution sentences (such as “bone” at a paleontology conference).

Even humans with full general intelligence and domain knowledge will fail at profanity detection. I think the problem here is not so much that there are false triggers, but that there is no way to deal with the false triggers — no way to appeal to reason or utility.

It's a problem with a subjective answer.

One man's profanity is not another man's profanity.

Of course, the personality trait of desiring censoring “bad words” seems to highly correlate with a belief in objective morality. — the others are wrong about what they find profane!

They just rebranded it as "AI-powered profanity filter" :)

Reminiscent to me of Call of Duty Warzone; it has loadouts which you can give custom names (that only you see!) which are protected with a profanity filter. Comically, some of the literal names of the guns are banned as being profane, like "MP5".

My CoD group of friends still occasionally calls the assault rifle "analsault". Stupid, huh? Not as stupid as an earlier version of CoD (Black Ops 1, IIRC) that wouldn't let you name a load out "assault $WHATEVER", 'cuz you know, "ass". But "anal" is so much better so that was allowed.

They fixed it in later versions, but I still have a "penetration" class because I'm immature that way.

See also Dark Souls multiplayer, in which you can see many “K***hts” running around.

Oh my god that's fucking hilarious.

Isn't it just to double-plus-ensure that no one "accidentally" uses a name that ActivisionBlizzard did not license from the appropriate gun manufacturer?

I.e. It has little to do with profanity but a lot to prevent someone from making screnshot of a loadout with a gun that looks like MP5, is named by them as "MP5 whatever" and behaves like an MP5 in some type of legal action?

I cannot imagine horror of the precedent it would be set if H&K successfully sued AB over copyright infringement for names that are visible only to the player who entered them. Those names are not shown publicly.

Whilst I agree - and fervently hope we won't have to live in such a world - I thought the same about the API copyrightability and that one is not exactly going the reasonable way at the moment.

H&K has an US trademark consisting of just "MP5" in relation to a ton of things (though not video games!) so they could at least try make a case out of it not being purely nominative use and tie AB in court, if they wished. It would be PR suicide, but still, not the most stupid thing they have done.

Unclear. They do absolutely refer to their gun as, say, the "MP5" in-game.

Though, interestingly, in Modern Warfare (2019), many guns have two names; for example, the MP5 is also called SMG Charlie (as in, NATO phonetic alphabet for C). I kind of got the impression that it was laying groundwork for a long-term goal of removing the actual names of the guns; possibly due to licensing fees, or maybe to divorce the ugly reality of killing with video game killing, I don't know.

It feels like it would be pretty bizarre if a court somewhere actually ruled in favor of a gun manufacturer for lost revenue in a trademark suit because somebody was genuinely confused between a weapon in a video game and ordering an actual physical weapon, that can only be legally ordered by licensed firearm dealers and government organizations.

Need for Speed Heat doesn't allow you to put "69" or "420" on your car. But "6 9" and "4 2 0" are fine :D Best filter ever, completely defeated by just spaces

Maybe I'm being dense here, but what possible profane meaning is there in MP5?

You're not being dense. Its inexplicable. The only thing I can come up with is that "5" looks like "S", so maybe its banning "MPS", but even that is nearly meaningless; urbandictionary has some explicit things it stands for, though they're not well-upvoted.

The RIAA is trying to get ahead of various up-and-coming formats that will be used to pirate their content.

The example where the AFA filtered a news article about Tyson Gay, to replace any instance of his surname to 'homosexual' is an hilarious example of why you need context.

And the Arsenal pocketwatch.

Just wanna make sure I got this right. "ASS", automatic instant suspension with 0 human review.

"King's Throne: Game of Lust.", with advertised gameplay content such as "I, [the King], shall interrogate this female prisoner privately in my bed chambers", is one of the top advertised games on google play.

Got it.

Yes. This is the current state of "AI" at Google: a faulty regexp that matches "ASS" in "SSA, ASS, TTML" but not, from the issue description, in "(SSA/ASS)".

As an extensive and long-time user of Google Assistant, it's painfully obvious that a large percentage of "NLP" they're supposedly doing is actually regexp/keyword searching.

Maybe Google could partner with a company that has lots of experience parsing language and deriving intent/context? /s

The world we live in is strange. On one hand, it's trivial to find and consume content full of profanity, violence, sex and other things deemed 'inappropriate' yet on the other hand we live in a world where this old George Carlin classic still applies


It’s not just Google, though.


IDK, but maybe the game is marked as mature, while the app is not, and the automated review gave the former a pass in profanity?

I hate the ads for that game so much when I'm watching random crap on Youtube...

I wonder, why people suddenly forgot that adblockers are a thing?

Or because they're watching from the YT app?

Yeah, this is the reason for me.

Because they like the channels they watch and want them to get ad revenue?

Do you mean all those channels that have been demonetized and have Patreon accounts?

And if this really is the case then stop complaining about it.

Everyone is well within their rights to want to support creators by tolerating some ads, while simultaneously complaining about ads they do not tolerate.

Not tolerating ads == using adblocker.

And can we please stop turning every discussion, no matter how trivial, into a discussion about rights? Did I say anything that would suggest that I want to take any rights from someone?

regarding watching ads on channels to support them, I'm using an extension called `YouTube Channel Whitelist for uBlock Origin`, which allow to whitelist specific YT channels but also block advertisers.

You can get Premium! Fuck ads, but revenue stays.

Approved since it doesn't have a naughty word in it. /s

One of those pays ad money to Google.

At least you got a reason from Google. I have an update to an iOS app that's been stuck in review for two weeks now with zero feedback from Apple other than boilerplate responses from support. This is causing me serious stress as I have no idea how long it's going to be in this state and I rely on this and another app for 100% of my income.

Would you rather have your whole app suspended indefinitely from a random google's bot decision or have a human reviewing your update and possibly rejecting it ? From my last 3 rejections on iOS, they always provided me screenshots and I could discuss with the Apple reviewers. Same story for youtube (bots everywhere...), the only Google service where I could talk to human was Google Ads.

In this case it's not an indefinite suspension. The email said exactly what he needs to do to resolve the issue.

I'd rather be in that situation because there would be something I could do to make progress, even if I didn't agree with the decision.

In my case, I have no idea how long this is going to take - and I've seen horror stories on the Apple Developer forums of people being in review for months. It's also clear that a person hasn't actually been reviewing my app for 2 weeks straight, even though its been in the "In Review" state for that long. There's just not enough functionality in the app -- and previous updates to this app have only spent an hour or two in review. Maybe it's just my personality, but waiting in limbo with no end in sight really drives me nuts.

EDIT: to be clear, neither situation is good, but if I had to pick one, I'd pick the former.

I see and understand your point, but I think most people would rather choose the later. Some business just can't afford to have their app suspended/users acquisitions stopped until their appeal is approved by someone at Google (and it can also takes some time). Then when you appeal, you only have 1 try. If this one appeal is denied you can say goodbye to your application forever (except if you can make enough noise on social medias[1]). Imagine knowing that each update could stop your business because a bot made a mistake. What a nightmare...

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/gkvic1/podcast_add...

Going by another comment, it is not just a suspension, but a removal of the app identifier, which means all existing users are gone.

Does it let you file an appeal?

No, you can only appeal after you've been rejected. This update has neither been approved nor rejected -- it's just stuck "In Review".

You can ask for an expedited review, which I did on day 6. I got a form letter back saying that my request was "escalated for continued handling". But it doesn't seem to have made any difference.

> No, you can only appeal after you've been rejected.

How To Make A Mathematically Perfectly Infuriating Traffic Jam 101 :(

> [...] [M]y request was "escalated for continued handling". But it doesn't seem to have made any difference.

Your status was upgraded to "waiting faster" :D


Google and Apple have inhibited the growth of the mobile app distribution market for over a decade now, and it's developers and users like ourselves that are punished to maintain their monopoly.

I had this happen once, and I finally gave up and removed the app from review.

I re-built it with a newer version of Xcode, bumped the version the number, resubmitted. It was approved the next day.

> Your app contains content that doesn't comply with the Sexual Content and Profanity policy.

What the fuck is "profanity"? Are we a religious society? Why shouldn't we able to say "ass" (!) or show nipples??

The ban on porn is defensible outside of any moral framework because once you allow porn then all what's left is porn (although it would be useful to think about why that is).

But "profanity"? Come on.

> The ban on porn is defensible outside of any moral framework because once you allow porn then all what's left is porn (although it would be useful to think about why that is).

Reddit and 8chan allow the creation of pornography subboards and never even approached that state.

That's because they both allow for creation of very segregated sub-groups that don't inherently interact. You won't see a lot of porn on /r/all because Reddit doesn't want you to, even though at least 50% of Reddit is porn, it's just bad for business.

It's basically a "mini internet".

Can the same not be implemented for such a so-called “app store”?

Religion's got nothing to do with it. Racial slurs are a subset of "profanity", and I wager that you support Google's desire to not have apps in their store which prominently feature racial slurs. Every culture has its "bad words" which are forbidden to use in polite company.

(Of course the actual app in question is still completely innocent, because Google's vetting process is a trash fire.)

The taboo against racial slurs is itself religious, by any clear-eyed concept of religion.

In the same sense that Thanksgiving is a holiday of the American civic religion, Martin Luther King, Jr. is a martyred saint of that religion. He has statues and a day of remembrance; any attempt to separate this from religious observance is going to have its work cut out for it.

I expect this will be interpreted as disrespecting the tenets of that religion, but I revere the Reverend Doctor and abstain from saying slurs out of piety, as well as ordinary fear.

I offer this as evidence: if the prohibition were part of a more general idea that we shouldn't insult other people, the use-mention distinction would still apply. Yet many lecturers have been dismissed for mentioning the n-slur, without directing it at anyone. The only conclusion which fits the facts is religious taboo.

It seems disingenuous to bring up racial slurs in the context of profanity. They're two very different categories, even if they are both subsets of "words that can get you in trouble." As you acknowledge, the app in question was blocked for profanity, not slurs.

As parent comment says, profanity seems to be mostly a religious issue. I can say "fuck" on TV, or in my novel, or even in my Hacker News comment. But I doubt I'd get away with such language in church, or a show I wanted to sell to a Puritanical USA audience.

None of that has anything to do with slurs, which are much more widely agreed as "wrong." You can reasonably expect a service or file extension that turned out to accidentally be a slur would get a lot more attention, unlike "ASS"

Generally speaking, profanity is language that is socially offensive. The reasons that the language might be offensive depends on the social makeup and norms of the group you're referring to. Sometimes those norms are driven by religion, sometimes they are driven by other factors, and sometimes it is a combination of reasons.

For example, you can find instances of social groups that:

1. are not religious, but recognize the concept of profanity.

2. do not recognize some slurs as profane.

3. are religious, but do not recognize the same profanity as other social groups that belong to the same religion.

As kube-system said in a sister comment, "words that can get you in trouble" is the definition of profanity. [Wikipedia uses the phrase "socially offensive language"](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profanity), which accords precisely with what I learned about the concept from sociolinguistics. So it's entirely in line with accepted definitions to treat taboo racial slurs as a kind of profanity.

First of all, do you think that promoting LGBT would fly in a church? I'm pretty sure it's far more offensive to a religious person than saying "fuck". Second, before this issue got so big and everyone started talking about it, the official line was that they need to be "advertiser friendly". As stupid as I think it is, it seems far more likely than your explanation.

You seem far more sure than you should be; many churches are openly accepting of LGBT people.

Hadn't that changed only very recently though? Not an American, so I forgot for a second that it's different there.

> Religion's got nothing to do with it. Racial slurs are a subset of "profanity", and I wager that you support Google's desire to not have apps in their store which prominently feature racial slurs.

I have no objection.

> Every culture has its "bad words" which are forbidden to use in polite company.

I'm not so sure that that is true.

I do not think there is but a single word in the Dutch language that cannot be featured even on children's programming. Some cultures have a concept of “taboo words”, and others seem to lack it.

Wikipedia has quite a long list, including wide assortment of racial slurs. Would all of this really be acceptable in kids tv?


Also this entry is interesting:

> Kankerlijer means "cancer sufferer". It is a strong insult: an example of its legal status can be found in a 2008 court case, in which using the word kankerlijer to insult a police officer was cited as a serious offense.

Though, little surprise if "offensive to an authority figure" is a lower bar than "offensive to parents"

> Wikipedia has quite a long list, including wide assortment of racial slurs. Would all of this really be acceptable in kids tv?

> https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_profanity

Absolutely. They simply feature such swearwords as well as genitals.

> > Kankerlijer means "cancer sufferer". It is a strong insult: an example of its legal status can be found in a 2008 court case, in which using the word kankerlijer to insult a police officer was cited as a serious offense.

> Though, little surprise if "offensive to an authority figure" is a lower bar than "offensive to parents"

It isn't about offending, but insulting.

It isn't legal in the Netherlands to insult police officers in function regardless of how polite the language is. One can't walk up to one and say “I find your face most æsthetically displeasing.” for instance.

Certainly not a law I agree with, in any case, and thankfully it's becoming more and more of a dead letter, but occasionally people are prosecuted for it.

Yes we are a religious society. Our roots are in puritanism, in fact that's one of the main differentiators from the (Catholic-based) European countries from which we sprang.

They need to take god out of politics and public schools... from the dollar bill, for example.

I disagree. God is already out of most schools, and it isn’t working well at all. Each school needs its own fully-integrated approach based on the students at the school and what works for them.

God being in schools is usually much more about the parents of the students in the school.

Obtaining favor of the parents is important. Children can't thrive at school if the parents aren't on the side of the teacher and doing their part.

Why would it be good to lie to them? What are the consequences when you don't?

We lie to children all the time to protect them. Reality isn't actually good to be exposed to when you are a child; it's much better to encounter it in a safer, nonthreatening way, which is why we have euphemisms and hide the fact of death and (extreme) evil for so long. All of that however is separate from whether we should teach religion, which is more or less orthogonal to objective reality. Religion covers that which is unobservable, almost by definition.

"We"? Google is booking less than 50% of its revenue in the US.

The authoritarian shall always be more powerful than the libertarian, simply because he will leave with his wallet, if he find something that offends him, but the libertarian will not leave if he cannot find something that would offend the authoritarian.

Therefore, it is commercially more viable to keep the authoritarian happy.

That is unfortunately true, and the reason for so much injustice. Thanks for that succinct way of describing this.

Is this about Google's revenue as a whole (mostly ads) or a particular market (Android play store in the USA)?

That level of granularity isn't provided by Google in their financial reports, so Google as a whole.

That said, Android seems to be doing better outside the US than in the US.

I wouldn't be very surprised if US revenue was dominant within the Android BU (or whatever they call it today).

Last time I heard (probably outdated) there were at least 2 billion non-US Google Play devices active; compared to the 120 million US Google Play devices figure that's widely available.

Also: Wouldn't surprise me if Google makes more from licensing the Google Play store to non-US markets than they do from the Google Play sales revenue globally.

Well, speaking of religion or at least Christianity, the word "ass" is used quite a bit in the Bible.

[edit]The dangers of such filters can be observed at this link http://bash.org/?178890 [/edit]

Soon as I saw this headline I was like "I bet this is about ASS subtitles". Sad, really. Would have figured the Scunthorpe problem was well enough known that it wouldn't exist in a project of this scale.

It's because of their scale they can afford not to care. So, some app gets kicked out, who cares, they have literally millions more, most of them (like the abovementioned sex game that is all over the ads) actually bringing in the sweet $$$$s. So they can afford to both pretend they are pure guardians of morality and make money, and given their size they don't need to have any customer service, because what you gonna do - go to a different store?

Google and Apple have kept a stranglehold on the mobile application distribution market for over a decade now. It's time to break them up, or require them to allow other mobile app distributors on their platforms.

Surely other companies can be more efficient with the 30% cut or less that Google takes, without forcing users to put up with the poor service that's exemplified by the article in the OP.

> Surely other companies can be more efficient with the 30% cut or less that Google takes, without forcing users to put up with the poor service that's exemplified by the article in the OP.

The fact that no other actor has done that speaks to the fact that it's probably not as straightforward as you might think. Go one step further and take any product in killedbygoogle.com and see how many other actors have benefited from recreating and living off a better version of any of those services... I'm curious how you think that breaking down Google or Apple would help us the end users in this case? Surely a smaller company with less assets/employees will spend even less time doing manual reviews for the same amount of apps.

Meanwhile while HN seems focused on gov to put pressure on big tech to break, I keep getting reminders that my family of 5 using video conferencing for school/work is about to hit its monthly data cap of 1.2TB imposed by Comcast in the middle of the pandemic...

How do you suggest they recoup the losses that come with developing and maintaining entire ecosystems of power-efficient operating systems and mobile devices?

Not my problem, Google already makes a ton of money off of me through their mobile ad platforms and tracking, and they can charge the OEMs to use Android. That might even incentivize the much needed competition in the mobile OS market, given Apple and Google's monopoly in that space, too.

How does Apple do it with macOS? What about Microsoft with Windows?

Apple now takes a 15% fee and has a really good review process (updates are reviewed by humans within a day or two)

> Apple now takes a 15% fee

Surely if there was real competition in the mobile app distribution market, we could see how efficient competitors can be with that 15% or less cut compared to Apple.

> and has a really good review process (updates are reviewed by humans within a day or two)

In this very thread, an iOS developer is lamenting the fact that their iOS app has been held in limbo for weeks by Apple reviewers[1]. It's responsible for 100% of their income, and Apple's arbitrary rules and reviewers are cutting into that.

That doesn't instill confidence in me that Apple has a really good review process at all. To me, it shows that we need real competition in the mobile app distribution space.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25907375

This is a fairly rose-colored view. The 15% is recent and applies if you meet a list of conditions, and updates often get stuck just as they would on the Play Store.

How do you break them up when they control the device hardware?

Related from my native language (Latvian): ass nazis means sharp knife:


Got some pages on my site banned from displaying Google ads because the user generated content on the pages includes a discussion on "Penisilin" (Penicillin in Turkish).

Never appealed since it's mostly a time sink with Google when you're nobody.

You've really got to enjoy the walled garden experience which at least half of the HackerNews commenters claims to be ultra-supremely-superior for the end user.

I imagine whoever is in charge of the review machine, though, reads Kafka for enjoyment and inspiration.

It is infuriating that Google's default action for these automated takedowns is to remove the app and ask the developer to upload a new build with a new package name, which means not keeping any of the existing users.

It's happened to two of my clients in the past 6 months based on small infractions in the app metadata, but no issue with the app itself.

In both cases the app was taken down with no advance notice, and eventually reinstated after an appeal and several very stressful days of waiting.

Apple seems to be very selective during the approval process, and is often inconsistent so a minor update can get rejected for something that was approved many times before. I guess different people review and interpret the rules differently so maybe this is unavoidable.

Google (from what I can tell) seems to take a very different approach and relies much more on automated enforcement. The process is on average much lower friction for the developer, but getting previously approved app listings removed at any time without warning is not a good experience.

Edit: I forgot to mention that you can't actually edit the metadata while the app is suspended and re-submit it for review. The only two choices are to appeal and edit the description after the app is reinstated, or create a completely new app listing.

I don't understand Google's App store play. Just another walled garden where things like this can happen.

They were the champions of the open web for a long time. What happened?

> They were the champions of the open web for a long time.

Because that's what you say when you're the underdog.

Remember Apple's 1984 ad?

Microsoft's "a computer on every desk"?

The tech industry seems to support a rotating cast of monopolists riding atop whatever gate-keeping function emerges, each one holding on as long as it can until replaced by something that ends up looking a lot like the last top dog.

I'm quite confident you can't run a company as big as Google without being evil but it seems useful to ponder why does it happen.

Corpo structure seems to have something to do with it, separate things into categories, then teams get categories and optimize locally without taking bigger picture into account (or even knowing what the picture is). Some regulations, maybe some pressures from some agencies about which they are not allowed to talk about. Etc.

But at some point I have to wonder about the mind of someone decisive in the company when "are we the baddies" question appears. Do they rationalize and think that "well, we need to do this because security botnets blahblah users have no idea what we are dealing with here and it's for their own good even if they don't understand it yada yada", or do they just don't give a shit. Or maybe it's like with me disliking my government - I definitely don't like it but I don't feel like fighting that giant machine at the moment, I can't do anything on my own, it would require cooperation and a plan and I have some stuff to do.

> seems useful to ponder why does it happen.

Ooooh. I know this one! Because that's what VCs want. AirBNB, Uber, Postmates, Google, Facebook, Apple.

VCs want to invest in winner-takes-all platforms and markets with incredibly strong network effects. But don't say any of that out loud: https://themarkup.org/google-the-giant/2020/08/07/google-doc...

All these people rushing in to Silicon Valley with hat-in-hand going from VC to VC talking about how they care so much about the user or the product. It's all a giant colossal fucking sham. You're there to become a billionaire. Can we all stop dancing around this fact already? Paul Graham and his fucking essays. The pretentious VC Twitterverse. It's always been about the money. Facebook's earliest slide deck tells the story of how they are going to harvest their users' private data and offer it up to advertisers:


This is back when they were still "The Facebook" and a tiny startup. They didn't suddenly become evil and greedy. Greed and evil was the plan. It's right there. Google is no different.

Many people at the top are set up for life (and maybe next few generations). Why would they care about money?

Yes of course you can tell the tale how it's not ever enough, how money equals power and people want power, but I don't really buy that. These are highly intelligent and creative individuals. They probably also know that power is responsibility and have enough of that.

Additional millions/billions have zero impact on their life and I really doubt many of them playing a game between themselves about who has the biggest number. Popular media probably care more about that.

If you want to scream at the rich, I think you won't find names of those most interesting in any rankings and not much in tech. They have they patents, oil wells, gov contracts, connections, HFTs and wealth well hidden from the public eye.

Most of companies you list offered something that people wanted and that's why they got a lot of money*. That's how the money is supposed to work. Compare it to trading companies that got money from banks which got money from Fed which was created out of thin air. Those at the top of banks and big funds effectively get money from everyone else, without providing them any value, without their consent. Even innocent real estate investment seem to involve more evil and greed than making a and running a huge company without pretty much any realistic vacation.

I'm not saying that your point is completely without merit, there is a lot of greed especially in the startup world. I just think that's a huge oversimplification.

* more realistically they won at something new that was growing fast

There's a lot of reasons. Building a closed guarden that locks people in feels a lot safer from a competition standpoint than the alternative, if you can make it hard to steal your customers and only a few (always remember that being on and reading HN means you're not much of an average user), it's also just easier than being open, a closed system can make changes much faster than an open one that has to get concensus before adding a new feature for example.

In this specific case and most of the time where Google's complete lack of support shows up it's because having manual review costs money and the process that screws the app developer is easier than having a secondary process that needs more people to decide if the first automated or rote manual scan made a mistake.

It's quite simple: if one not be evil, one won't become or remain as big.

It's simple survival of the fittest. The lion who feels compassion for his prey will not pass his genes to the next generation.

You could replace “the tech industry” with “capitalists” and it would only gain in correctness. There is no market incentive to be “good” past a certain size, and plenty of incentives to be “evil”.

They automated everything in order to not have to invest in human labor, in order to profit most greatly from scale while paying the fewest people they can get away with. Their original index was just an algorithm that distilled human labor from webrings and indexes, that supposedly was great on its own (hint: nope, they crawled the entire Internet, and yet they still remain critically dependent on blogs and news sites for the volunteer labor their algorithm depends on).

They found out if you close it and own it, you can make more money

They removed the "don't be evil" motto.

> What happened?

People fell for it.

ChromeOSissfication of the Web happened, with lots of FOSS developers putting Chrome everywhere, including bundling it as "native" application.

Schmidt, greed.

Joseph Stalin was a champion of the poor, before he became very rich.

> They were the champions of the open web for a long time. What happened?

It was a con.

I wonder if you could make a dummy app (a canary), submit it, and use that to test if your metadata is acceptable?

You have to be very careful about doing that. Every rejection is a potential strike against your developer account (especially for serious offenses like trademark violation). Get too many strikes and your dev account will get banned.

Apple at least keep your app up, and it's obvious there's a human on the other end. The responses are usually pretty quick (often within minutes if you reply straight away), and you can pinky-promise to fix the issues in the next release if it's an update.

Unless you're iSH and have to go to the court of public opinion and shame Apple into doing the right thing.

Apple was going to remove the app itself.

Yeah, this is what doesn't make sense to me. Why not leave the current approved app listing up? Why, during an update would they completely remove the listing for previously approved versions?!? Is the process really that broken?

We have had this happen twice as well. Maddening.

Google uses blacklists of words to demonetize Youtube channels. They have similar blacklists to ban Play apps. I found it the hard way when they removed my video recording app after I simply added "spy cam" in the list of features.

Lesson of life learned, so I implemented ways to keep in contact with my users in case of sudden ban and ask them to move to a new app or another channel.

That's explicitly a violation of Google's Play Store Policies:

> Apps must not present themselves as a spying or secret surveillance solution.

If your application could be accurately described as a "spy cam", it's likely that you were already in violation of their stalkerware policies.

That's correct, but my app didn't have any specific feature that makes it a "spy cam", it's just a funny case because you can use any video recording app as a "spy cam". So according to Google the difference between one and the other is mentioning those words. That shows how their automatic ban system works.

What's up with this American obsession with censoring profanities? Who gets to decide what's a bad word? And why are people suddenly okay with "censored" versions of "swearwords" like heck vs. hell, or bleeping out the middle of f*ck while you can still hear both F and K...? The intent is still there...

If there is enough of other people who are annoyed by this, can we please start doing something about this?

Arbitrary rules like that are a way to teach children impulse control, restraint, and patience.

I can't easily find the exact passage, but The Better Angels of Our Natue talks about how it's improper in English culture to use a knife to help eat peas. He credits these kind of arbitrary rules for helping reduce violent impulses. (Note: I read the book a while back so I'm probably misrepresenting the author's point in some way, but I think that's the general idea.)

Netflix just release a series of episodes on the history of curse words. Hosted by Nicholas Cage of all people. The jokes are kinda weak and don't land enough... but there are a couple interesting spots. I think just the fact that a show like this can now exist on a medium like this says a lot about how far we've come. And I think it speaks to where we're going --- where we collectively just care less and less about 'profanity'.

It's really breathtaking. They take an astonishing amount of your revenue. And they do not even try.

The mobile app distribution market really needs some disruption.

It needs regulation. There is no way a functioning market is going to grow out of the current ecosystem.

I do wonder what the justification for banning apps that "contain or promote sexually explicit content or profanity, including pornography".

Me too.

Where I am from prostitution is not illegal. On line tools are a real boon for the workers.

Pornography is entirely normal, and pornographers need all the protection other workers have, attitudes like this make that hard.

I really thought we were over prurience! Silly me.

Silly Google. If you are going to be Evil (TM) at least be grown up about it!

American companies will enforce American cultural norms, simple as that.

America is in the midst of a weird struggle to decide what those are; the companies are just trying to minimize local reputation risk.

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