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Google Docs Glitch That Locked Out Users Underscores Privacy Concerns

Posted By: Sarah Xiruo Xu, Nov. 6, 2017

Are you using Google Docs to store and share your important files with your friends or colleagues? Be careful, you may be blocked from accessing to your files! Last week, a false red flag in Google Docs locked users out of their documents as abusive or sensitive information scanned by machine. Tweeters posted that they were just in the middle of writing and suddenly their drafts were frozen for violating terms of services. Nowadays, the technology is developing swiftly. The advanced technologies bring a lot convenience to our daily life. However, they also cause a lot of unexpected risks and disadvantages at the same time.


Google is the most popular search engine. According to “StatCounter” statistics, Google has a desktop search engine 90% market share (Jobbole, 2011). It is so popular that we are hard to estimate an accurate number of its users including all its by-products such as Gmail and Google document. Considering the huge number of users, any tiny system vulnerability may bring enormous risks to the users and cause unpredictable results. The privacy loopholes recently discovered brought inconvenience to a lot of users.


Soon, the problem had been founded. Google published an official statement explaining that it had “made a code push that incorrectly flagged a small percentage of Google Docs as abusive, which caused those documents to be automatically blocked” (Salam, 2017). In this case, we can see that this is not only a technology accident but also indicates that the most of data we receive, upload are under monitored. The accident exposes the ethics of privacy of modern technologies. Undoubtedly, most users are not aware of under monitored. In fact, they do not read terms of services word by word and just click yes to access to the services, enjoying the advantages brought by technologies, unaware of negative impacts or risks. Google has claimed their privacy policy on their website that they may “collect information about the services that you use and how you use them, like when you watch a video on YouTube, visit a website that uses our advertising services, or view and interact with our ads and content” (Fung, 2017). The information they collected includes a lot like usage data, preferences, Gmail messages, G+ profile, photos, videos, browsing history, map searches, docs, or other Google-hosted content. As for the users, this kind of monitoring is creepy. And some of them soon responded and required Google to clarify whether they really read the contents of Google Document (Fung, 2017).


In this big data era, the information privacy is really significant for all customers. Even tiny technology and privacy loophole may cause inconvenience and even more property and rights losses to consumers. Consequently, customers may lose trust to the company and even the whole industry.


Original Story: “Google Docs Glitch That Locked Out Users Underscores Privacy Concerns”. New York Times, Oct. 31, 2017,




Salam, Maya. (2017, Oct. 31). Google Docs Glitch That Locked Out Users Underscores Privacy Concerns. New York Times, Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/31/technology/google-docs-glitch-bug.html?mabReward=ART_ACTM4&recid=0vjwycbkxBZsgAlyMgCGVMBKzfi&recp=2&moduleDetail=recommendations-2&action=click&contentCollection=DealBook&region=Footer&module=WhatsNext&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&src=recg&pgtype=article






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