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Suspended from Google Play for listing supported subtitle formats #37

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moneytoo opened this issue Jan 25, 2021 · 40 comments
Closed

Suspended from Google Play for listing supported subtitle formats #37

moneytoo opened this issue Jan 25, 2021 · 40 comments

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@moneytoo
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@moneytoo moneytoo commented Jan 25, 2021

After a tiny unrelated description update, Just Player got suspended from the Google Play Store for "Sexual Content and Profanity policy". Google finds issues with following:

Full description (en_US): “* Subtitles: SRT, SSA, ASS, TTML, VTT”

Based on this, I suspect that the issue is with the word ASS. But it's an actual file format (/extension). Just Player uses ExoPlayer (a Google library) which lists the very same on the support page:

SubStationAlpha (SSA/ASS) | YES | MimeTypes.TEXT_SSA

Wikipedia lists the same formats:

Filename extension | .ssa, .ass

I immediately filed an appeal. 🤞

Original message from Google:

suspension

@pkkid
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@pkkid pkkid commented Jan 25, 2021

Maybe add a . in front of each format? .ASS ..or maybe stop trying to secretly add sexual content into your player! :D

@alexcarruthers
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@alexcarruthers alexcarruthers commented Jan 25, 2021

or follow google's version: SRT/SSA/ASS/TTML/VTT

@moneytoo
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@moneytoo moneytoo commented Jan 25, 2021

I knew this was going to happen but I was telling myself that I shouldn't be afraid (as usual) to just put it there - hoping that "computers" these days are smarter in reading the context. But I guess not... I will definitely better remove the (‿ˠ‿) (if reinstated). This is too much stress for nothing.

@dessant
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@dessant dessant commented Jan 25, 2021

That line is perfectly fine, you should not change the description in an attempt to evade automated detection. Google has taken down your app possibly without human review, and the only reasonable action is to file an appeal, otherwise they will never have to contend with their abusive review process and automated takedowns.

@wodencafe
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@wodencafe wodencafe commented Jan 25, 2021

Seconded, please file an appeal for all our (‿ˠ‿)es

@stefanos82
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@stefanos82 stefanos82 commented Jan 25, 2021

Coming next, the block of Arsenal, Bruce Dickinson, and anyone with a "Cumming(s)" for surname from Google as a whole.

@StoneCypher
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@StoneCypher StoneCypher commented Jan 25, 2021

@dessant - don't gas the fire without even reading the ticket. He already said he appealed.

Nobody's going to "contend with an abusive review process" over a small developer's appeal over a glitch, besides.

@dessant
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@dessant dessant commented Jan 25, 2021

@StoneCypher, the developer is planning to redact the description after the app is reinstated, I was replying to that: #37 (comment)

@wodencafe
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@wodencafe wodencafe commented Jan 25, 2021

@StoneCypher Maybe this is a fire that needs a little bit of gas.

@StoneCypher
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@StoneCypher StoneCypher commented Jan 25, 2021

@dessant - that's the sensible response, is to just call it .SSA/.ASS (substation alpha), and not act like there's some kind of ethical problem here. In the real world, no-one was seriously harmed, and escalating makes this worse for everyone, especially the original author. There's no "abuse" here, and acting this way makes everything harder for everyone.

@wodencafe - This isn't even the first time this has happened this week. People who handle it reasonably and kindly just get fixed and go on about their day. People who try to create a big public stink don't get anything better. All you're doing is manufacturing unhappy people at both ends to feel powerful.

@dessant
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@dessant dessant commented Jan 25, 2021

@StoneCypher, an automated takedown is not a glitch, this process was deliberately designed this way to allow for takedowns without human involvement. Google obviously doesn't think that automated detection is infallible, but they have no respect for the developer's time, and they are not concerned about the financial loss you may incur when your commercial app is taken down for no reason.

It has been shown time and time again that Google's review process is abusive, across all of their services, even when humans are involved.

If this thread wouldn't have been shared everywhere, the app would most likely not have been reinstated after human review.

dessant/search-by-image#63

@StoneCypher
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@StoneCypher StoneCypher commented Jan 25, 2021

Having been on the other side of this? Actually having written automated control systems?

This is a simple bug. Stop being so weird. You're making things worse. Nothing is improving here.

@kevcmk
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@kevcmk kevcmk commented Jan 25, 2021

@StoneCypher What a strange flag to plant. I'd say you were a Google shill but I don't think this is that complicated

@Theome
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@Theome Theome commented Jan 25, 2021

Having been on the other side of this? Actually having written automated control systems?

This is a simple bug. Stop being so weird. You're making things worse. Nothing is improving here.

One of our apps has been removed for a similar bizarre reason. It took 10 full days until it was reinstated. This is not a "simple bug". In some situations being offline for 10 days is fatal. This automated system can crush startups and should be replaced by a process run by actual humans.

@StoneCypher
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@StoneCypher StoneCypher commented Jan 25, 2021

Wow, I'm a "shill" for saying "don't throw a fit over an automated mistake"

Okay guys, you have fun

@StoneCypher
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@StoneCypher StoneCypher commented Jan 25, 2021

One of our apps has been removed for a similar bizarre reason. It took 10 full days until it was reinstated. This is not a "simple bug". In some situations being offline for 10 days is fatal.

The guaranteed response is two days. Was there back and forth? Did they just not make the two day line? Were there questions they needed to ask? Did over the top claims slow things down?

I've been pulled for things like this, and it's never taken them more than 36 hours to respond and reinstate

Why would your app being out of store for 10 days be fatal? Users can still use the app during

.

This automated system can crush startups

If your startup is "crushed" by the app being unavailable for two days, your startup is problematically fragile.

I've worked at companies where the app went dark for a couple days because someone forgot to renew an SSL cert. Did anyone blame the IT guy for crushing the business? No, because that's a friend, so we just handled it calmly like a regular problem and went on with our days.

Things like this happen all the time in business. Paypal will hold your account, too. Your domain might go dark (now there's a real problem.) You might get sued, including over nonsense, and your contracts might get put on hold over it if they're with the state.

If you aren't ready, that's on you, not them.

There's a cultural sophistication in understanding that if your business can be destroyed by two days of mild unexpected problems, your business is already hanging by a thread.

You're supposed to be making more durable things than this.

Does this suck? Yes.

Is being out of the store for two days the end of the world?

It really shouldn't be. If it is, you've got bigger fish to fry.

@kevcmk
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@kevcmk kevcmk commented Jan 25, 2021

No in this case you're not a shill, you're just wasting your time clawing for dear life trying to convince some internet person to not raise this as a bug

@StoneCypher
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@StoneCypher StoneCypher commented Jan 25, 2021

@kevcmk - You can stop throwing insults, dear heart. I'm not trying to convince to not raise a bug. I'm sorry that you find what I said so difficult to understand.

@Theome
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@Theome Theome commented Jan 25, 2021

@StoneCypher Yes, the guaranteed response is two days. But we immediately received an automated response that it could take longer "because Covid". There was no other communication, we appealed and then heard nothing for 10 days.

These 10 days didn't crush our business, just being offline didn't matter much for us. But I bet there are situations where it might hurt some startups badly, for example if they just started a big ad campagin or whatever.

Also, this was the first time we had an app removed from the Play Store. It might not have crushed our business, but boy did it crush our souls. Google makes it sound like there's no way your app is going to come back to the Play Store, ever. We just spent close to a year preparing a huge new release for our app, and then this. No way to talk to a human at Google, just silence.

Believe me, when you have experienced this, it's very strange to see someone actually defending Google. "Don't throw a fit" lol. We all together should create much, much more noise about this.

@rahulpyd
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@rahulpyd rahulpyd commented Jan 25, 2021

Ambiguity is common. I suggest they do a manual review before they flag apps.

@wswright
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@wswright wswright commented Jan 25, 2021

If your startup is "crushed" by the app being unavailable for two days, your startup is problematically fragile.

These are the opinions you should have learned to keep to yourself. A bubble is allowing you to think this is normal behavior.

@rickknowles
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@rickknowles rickknowles commented Jan 25, 2021

Coming next, the block of Arsenal, Bruce Dickinson, and anyone with a "Cumming(s)" for surname from Google as a whole.

Also, be sure not to allow any developers based in Scunthorpe, UK to join the project.

@moneytoo
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@moneytoo moneytoo commented Jan 25, 2021

Reinstated! Hooray! 🎉 That was surprisingly fast.

@moneytoo moneytoo closed this Jan 25, 2021
@StoneCypher
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@StoneCypher StoneCypher commented Jan 26, 2021

Google makes it sound like there's no way your app is going to come back to the Play Store, ever.

It literally gives you next steps.

.

No way to talk to a human at Google, just silence.

Lots of people in here have their from-human responses, including the guy calling me a shill pointing to that time he tagged Google's person whose entire job is this, on a system they don't run

Those responses were pretty fast, it looks like, much like this one

.

We all together should create much, much more noise about this.

The more noise you make, the more expensive customer service gets, and the less likely they'll offer it

@smartties
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@smartties smartties commented Jan 26, 2021

I'm surprised to see google didn't send you a 30days notice before removing your app. I thought Google was complying with EU rules if you are a European business:

The new EU rules are now required to provide developers and publishers a statement on why an app is being removed at least 30 days before removing the app

sources :
[1] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019R1150
[2] https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/14/europe-agrees-platform-rules-to-tackle-unfair-business-practices/
[3] https://mspoweruser.com/european-union-announces-new-rules-for-apple-app-store-and-google-play-store/
[4] https://www.slashgear.com/apple-app-store-google-play-store-face-new-rules-in-europe-15629228/
[5] https://www.mcvuk.com/business-news/new-eu-regulation-strengthens-hand-of-developers-and-publishers-in-dealings-with-storefronts/
edit: typo
Glad to see it's fixed !

@NearHuscarl
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@NearHuscarl NearHuscarl commented Jan 26, 2021

It's funny that most of the drama here is from that one guy who wouldn't know when to stop debating instead of Google's terrible automatic review process.

@StoneCypher
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@StoneCypher StoneCypher commented Jan 26, 2021

@smartties - That's because his app was suspended, and those rules are for permanent removals and account suspensions. The law doesn't recognize a temporary suspension of an individual app as worthy of protection, and explicitly states as such.

@vegidio
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@vegidio vegidio commented Jan 26, 2021

@StoneCypher Just stop now. You are embarrassing yourself.

@mobeigi
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@mobeigi mobeigi commented Jan 26, 2021

In an ideal world, a human would review all listings but you're kidding yourself if you think Google is going to hire thousands and thousands of extra employees for manual reviews. These automated systems are the best you will get and for every false positive like this, the system has probably correctly suspended 1000's of sexually explicit apps that used this in their description.

Improving the algo to detect context for each banlist word is not an easy job and quite frankly not worth the engineering effort. Just appeal and move on folks.

@heroic
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@heroic heroic commented Jan 26, 2021

One of our apps has been removed for a similar bizarre reason. It took 10 full days until it was reinstated. This is not a "simple bug". In some situations being offline for 10 days is fatal.

The guaranteed response is two days. Was there back and forth? Did they just not make the two day line? Were there questions they needed to ask? Did over the top claims slow things down?

I've been pulled for things like this, and it's never taken them more than 36 hours to respond and reinstate

Why would your app being out of store for 10 days be fatal? Users can still use the app during

.

This automated system can crush startups

If your startup is "crushed" by the app being unavailable for two days, your startup is problematically fragile.

I've worked at companies where the app went dark for a couple days because someone forgot to renew an SSL cert. Did anyone blame the IT guy for crushing the business? No, because that's a friend, so we just handled it calmly like a regular problem and went on with our days.

Things like this happen all the time in business. Paypal will hold your account, too. Your domain might go dark (now there's a real problem.) You might get sued, including over nonsense, and your contracts might get put on hold over it if they're with the state.

If you aren't ready, that's on you, not them.

There's a cultural sophistication in understanding that if your business can be destroyed by two days of mild unexpected problems, your business is already hanging by a thread.

You're supposed to be making more durable things than this.

Does this suck? Yes.

Is being out of the store for two days the end of the world?

It really shouldn't be. If it is, you've got bigger fish to fry.

I don't think you've run a startup before, have you? Have 20,000 people shouting at you at customer service, because they're left in a pinch, as they can't find your app on the play store and they have to install it to do something? (Yes, people uninstall apps and reinstall a lot). All this just because you were taken off the store for 2 days.

@riskynacho
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@riskynacho riskynacho commented Jan 26, 2021

This is a simple bug. Stop being so weird. You're making things worse

Were you dropped on your head as a child? This system is abusive and barely functional at best. All app removals should be reviewed by a human before being removed. Relying on automated action catches too many false positives and should only be used to flag something for manual review. Further, this reeks of Google's virtue signaling and needs to be shutdown.

@Tynach
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@Tynach Tynach commented Jan 26, 2021

@riskynacho, automated actions are the only realistically viable way that Google can handle the sheer amount of app update submissions they receive. It is literally not possible for a team of humans to review all of them in a timely manner; Apple tries to, and often fails.

However, I do agree that Google needs to tone down its virtue signalling. They should instead have an age verification process for users, and for users who are old enough, enable access to apps which feature profanity, nudity, or whatever else.

Then, for apps like this that accidentally trip the profanity filter, instead of suspending the app they could just make it 18+ or whatever... And that leaves many users unaffected, or just having to fiddle with settings as a workaround. That also lowers the risk of, as others put it, 'crushing a startup'.

@IanKemp
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@IanKemp IanKemp commented Jan 26, 2021

@moneytoo time to lock this issue, methinks.

@XANi
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@XANi XANi commented Jan 26, 2021

@riskynacho, automated actions are the only realistically viable way that Google can handle the sheer amount of app update submissions they receive. It is literally not possible for a team of humans to review all of them in a timely manner; Apple tries to, and often fails.

Nope, if it is existing, established app it could just flag it for manual review. Surely gonna waste less time of "precious" google employees like our @StoneCypher shill here to look at automated report once and flag it "its okay" (and maybe even fix their shit) than it would to get to same conclusion thru support staff.

@bender-the-greatest
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@bender-the-greatest bender-the-greatest commented Jan 27, 2021

Thing is, @StoneCypher would be on the right side here, if this sort of thing didn't happen all the time. I've read about a few apps or chrome extensions this year that got shuttered due to automatic flagging, and no, they weren't back up within two days. Google is on the right page with their automatic flagging of apps but they either need to human-review automated flags before suspension, do age verification and allow more mature content, or have someone who knows regex use a better expression than /(list|of|banned|words|like|ass)/gi.

This is absolutely a process Google needs to improve on. Not knocking them for their pioneering AI ventures, but when something's broke it should be fixed.

@StoneCypher
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@StoneCypher StoneCypher commented Jan 27, 2021

I am employed in an unrelated part of the company and the opinions I express here are my own.

My actual goal was to help someone realize that it was going to be okay and there was no need to panic. Please stop tagging me with insults. I wish I hadn't said anything.

@bender-the-greatest
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@bender-the-greatest bender-the-greatest commented Jan 27, 2021

"Attack ideas, not people."

@StoneCypher I disagree with your position on the subject of this issue, but I was not trying to insult you, just referenced your argument in my opinion. I agree though we don't need to devolve into ad hominem attacks and folks shouldn't be doing that here.

@dessant
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@dessant dessant commented Jan 27, 2021

@StoneCypher, on top of it you're a Google employee... absolutely disgusting, you should be ashamed of yourself. That's exactly what Google and this thread needed, one of their engineers bullying developers who dare to highlight systemic issues.

@StoneCypher
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@StoneCypher StoneCypher commented Jan 27, 2021

i apologize if i made someone feel bullied :(

Repository owner locked as too heated and limited conversation to collaborators Jan 27, 2021
@moneytoo
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@moneytoo moneytoo commented Jan 28, 2021

Looking at the quite limited SSA/ASS support in ExoPlayer, I'm removing the "ASS" text. My latest description and app updates are in review for a couple of days so I better avoid any delays (if there's a chance).

Funny thing: I'm receiving email notifications about people leaving reviews for the app on the Google Play Store. So far at least 4 people mentioned "ASS" or ".ass" but none of these reviews stayed visible in the Google Play Console (or the Store).

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