The most recent app to catch an illogical ban from the Google Play Retailer is Component, an open-source, end-to-end encrypted messaging consumer for the federated Matrix chat protocol. Google banned Component late Friday evening, a ban which Element said “is because of abusive content material someplace on Matrix.” Matrix has hundreds of thousands of customers, and as a federated chat protocol, Component doesn’t management the content material on Matrix, so it is a bit like banning an internet browser for displaying internet content material. Component says it’s working with Google to “clarify how Component works and get the scenario resolved.”
Google has been cracking down on apps that show hateful content material, however Component says that it should not be a part of the crackdown. “We’ve got additionally defined that the Matrix servers that we do run as Component (together with the default Matrix.org homeserver, which we run on behalf of The Matrix.org Basis) have strict Phrases of Use which we actively implement,” Component mentioned. “We abhor abuse, and Component will not be an app that caters to abusive content material.”
Component says it has a full-time group devoted to dealing with abuse studies.
Component (which was previously referred to as Riot.im) is commonly cited as probably the greatest Matrix purchasers. It seems loads like—and is definitely interoperable with—Slack and Discord. Component says it’s utilized by “the French, German, UK and US governments, numerous universities, 1000’s of companies and hundreds of thousands of individuals internationally.” The app has just lately seen an inflow of latest customers after WhatsApp’s announcement about Fb knowledge sharing, so perhaps that triggered deeper scrutiny from Google. At press time, many different Matrix apps—which by definition present the identical content material as Component—are nonetheless lively on the Play Retailer.
Google takes a 30 p.c reduce of all Play Retailer transactions, which is meant to pay for the price of operating the Retailer, however the firm would not rent people to primarily evaluation apps the best way Apple does, selecting as a substitute to let the bots deal with it. Apple just lately reduce its App Retailer tax from 30 p.c to fifteen p.c, so Apple really prices builders lower than Google whereas additionally providing higher human assist.
Component’s latest update on the scenario as of this writing mentioned it has been ready greater than eight hours for an e mail response. Component says it was not notified of the takedown, which has now handed the 24-hour mark..
The bots’ interpretation of Google’s guidelines usually make no sense, and because of this Google commonly bans random small apps from the Play Retailer as a result of they will show content material from the Web. We have seen Reddit apps, podcast apps, and different apps that show third-party internet content material all “win” the Google Play ban-of-the-week lottery, simply because they are often made to show third-party content material. The identical is true of Google Search, Chrome, Gmail, all of Google’s chat apps, YouTube, Google Drive, and Google Podcasts, however these apps by no means get banned. Earlier this week Google banned a video app as a result of it listed assist for the usual “.ass” subtitle filetype in its description.
The one advantage of the Play Retailer is that you do not have to make use of it, since Android helps sideloading. Component can also be up on F-Droid, an all-open-source repository of Android apps, although the model provided there’s a month outdated. A extra up-to-date model is on APKmirror, the Android hacking group’s largest app retailer.
These bans are virtually all the time momentary errors which are rectified after a couple of hours or days, however that provides little solace to app builders that may abruptly have their companies ripped out from underneath them due to an enforcement mistake. Component says “we are able to solely apologize for the disruption brought on by the app disappearing like this.”
Replace: Component received in contact with an individual at Google and says the app must be again up quickly.
Replace: we simply received a name from a Google VP who defined the suspension was triggered by a report of extraordinarily abusive content material accessible on the https://t.co/g01j4u6O2e server. Our belief & security group had already acted on it, and the app must be reinstated shortly.
— Component (@element_hq) January 30, 2021