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A Google Docs glitch is locking people out of their files for ‘Terms of Service’ violations

google doc glitch
The popular word processing service has been locking users out of accessing their own files within Google Drive. As Motherboard reported, a large number of people have already reached out to the Google Docs Twitter account about the bug.

The apparent Google Docs glitch has been randomly giving users the following error when the flagged Doc is currently in use — “This item has been flagged as inappropriate and can no longer be shared.” Secondly, when blocked out of a particular file, users have been getting this message: “You can’t access this item because it is in violation of our Terms of Service.” Neither are particularly comforting for those who are already concerned over internet privacy and the massive amount of information that is stored in the cloud.

The Google Docs Twitter account has been responding to the flood of tweets with the same message:

While the problem seems to only be some kind of a glitch, it does bring up some problematic questions about whether or not Google is reading users’ private files. Google does have a Privacy Policy, but it does not specifically mention anything about policies surrounding Google Drive, and whether or not private documents are being reviewed or scanned to meet the mentioned Terms of Service.

According to the Privacy Policy, Google uses the information it collects to “provide, maintain, protect and improve them, to develop new ones, and to protect Google and our users.”

Google has been scanning its users’ email for ad personalization for years now, which is something people seem to have accepted at this point. However, Google announced earlier this year that it would be halting ad personalization, and giving users the ability to choose how ads appear in Gmail. In other words, Google still reads your email, but for a reason other than giving you personalized ads.

As the tweet states above, Google seems to be looking into the issue, and will probably have it worked out soon enough. As for the larger issue of how and why Google is reading your documents — that’s another question that we all need clarification from Google about.

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