5 Mar 2003
(updated 5 Mar 2003 at 20:33 UTC) »
It appears google is censoring my posts to comp.lang.forth (this is the only group I post to). No notification was given nor any report of what was considered abusive.
I don't post there frequently, but where I have posted, I think I am having a very positive effect on the community. I have caused people to reevaluate their assumptions, and to some extent I have bridged the gap that has split the Forth community in two. My posts are at times colorful, often quite critical, but this is expected for usenet. The decision to censor my posts, made by whom I don't know, seems entirely arbitrary.
Indeed, in google's Terms and Conditions, they explain quite clearly google can do whatever it wants with what is posted through their service:
Google reserves the right at all times to disclose any information as necessary to satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request, or to edit, refuse to post or to remove any information or materials, in whole or in part, for any reason whatsoever, in Google's sole discretion.
Google reserves the right to terminate or restrict your access to any or all of the Groups at any time without notice for any reason whatsoever.
If this was not bad enough, then comes the license grant:
By posting communications on or through the Service, you automatically grant Google a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, edit, translate, distribute, perform, and display the communication alone or as part of other works in any form, media, or technology whether now known or hereafter developed, and to sublicense such rights through multiple tiers of sublicensees.
Of course it is google's service, and by using it I agree to these terms. However, far more importantly I feel google has betrayed my confidence. Two of my posts are lost, and creative energy imbued in them. I could try to rewrite, but it is not the same. there is an energy in the moment and trying to recreate that can be difficult. A simple notification telling me I can't post through google would be far preferable, as I don't have to waste time and energy, and I can find a service that will post my messages.
And there is issue of far greater importance then my personal mishap. That is the amount of faith currently endowed to google. Many aspects of google's services are of high quality which has lead to google's popularity which in turn has given google a totalitarian position on the web. Their operation for the most part is good natured at present. However given their power, they could very turn down a far darker path, if they haven't already done so. Will the internet be able to break free of google's grasp should this happen? It should not be forgotten freedom from censorship is what makes the internet such a distinct medium. Compare the range of views found on the internet with the highely censored medium of television.
Also is there an alternative to the google group service? It seems there should be a public archive of usenet independent of the "sole discretion" of a single corporation.
I found an interesting article which expresses precisely my concerns. It seems I am not alone in my concern of Google's position. As to what should be done, and what difference I can actually make I don't know. I feel public access and distributed public archives are a must for the future health of usenet.