One Statistics Professor Was Just Banned By Google: Here Is His Story

Statistics professor Salil Mehta, adjunct professor at Columbia and Georgetown who teaches probability and data science and whose work has appeared on this website on numerous prior occasions, was banned by Google on Friday.

What did Salil do to provoke Google? It is not entirely clear, however what is clear is that his repeated attempts at restoring his email, blog and other Google-linked accounts have so far been rejected with a blanket and uniform statement from the search giant.

Here is what happened, in Salil Mehta's own words.

Dont do a googol of evil

Freedom is not free unless corporations who exert a large influence in our lives believe in our well-being.  I am a statistics professor and understand that there needs to be reasonable standards to control a large social network and make sure everyone is able to enjoy it freely.  Invariably people disagree (we all see this), but some principles, such as simply showing probability and statistics with the sole hope of educating others, should be acceptable and in the middle of the distribution.  I am for a higher standard, and a higher purpose.  There is great care that I have taken to make sure that people treat one other well, admit faults, and present math and probability education to a wide audience.

On Friday afternoon East Coast Time by surprise, I was completely shut down in all my Google accounts (all of my gmail accounts, blog, all of my university pages that were on google sites, etc.) for no reason and no warning.  A number of us were stunned and unsure, but clearly we know at this point it wasn’t an accident.  Here are some examples commented from best-selling author Nassim Taleb, and they have been retweeted by government officials, and the NYT and WSJ journalists. 

My ads-free blog itself is a probability theory site, with 27 million reads and has somewhere near 150k overall followers.  It’s been read by Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Nobel Laureates, multiple governments, celebrity athletes around the world, deans of many universities (on the syllabi of same), and a number of TV news anchors.  So it’s been a great boon for Google to be noticed so kindly by essentially a charitable site promoting math education.  What great people from all corners of the world and at all levels who can enjoy Google, until it suddenly died Friday afternoon.

My background is clean, and without a political or social agenda.  I am not promoting any specific viewpoint.  I teach probability math and that’s it.  Have worked with both the Obama administration and advised on polling statistics for the Trump campaign, am an adjunct professor at three top universities, an editor of the peer-reviewed journal of the American Statistical Association, and wrote a best-selling statistics book (all the proceeds of which I gave to charity!)

The NYT has a popular print article this weekend and they cited my Google blog, but alas it not links to an embarrassing malfunction, for many to see:

This doesn’t look good.  Now instead of mathematics, reporters have turned to this latest circus nightmare from Google as an example of how they are compounding bad decisions on good people anywhere and at any time. 

Can they not differentiate me from an evil person?  Can they not see the large and reputable people and institutions that have relied on my work?  Do they have better people who can coach them on how to make decisions with much better taste and finesse?  What’s next, all CEOs and professors and politicians are going to be shut down from social media whenever it is least expected?  Overnight hi-tech lynching squads are a thing of the past.  We can’t have kangaroo courts and hope to lead with moral authority.

There is a lot of energy being spent right now thinking about how this happens to your best customers, just like that.  Fear is running wild about who is next and on what other social media platforms.  Have used Google for 11 years with no issue.  Have driven enormous free traffic to your products and properties.  But now that’s been severely damaged as the trust/reputational value has been crushed, and I have to re-emerge quickly elsewhere and deal with this fall-out.  I have many students, family, coworkers, etc who typically send me e-mails each day and all of it is vanishing with a kicked-back “user doesn’t exist” error.  And that’s totally unacceptable.  Through my many companies have business accounts on different social media and have no issue getting a marketing line, but one needs to know who they are dealing with and not treat them this badly.  The wrongs here are not being done by me.

Again, a math site.  An academic site that you can see from the various header tabs of the archives (  These are applications of formulas and shouldn’t be subject of limitations of free speech.  A lot of great people like it.  Hopefully Google needs to take huge step back and reexamine what went wrong and how the product could be better for others going forward, so that they and all of us grow well.  People’s faith in democracy is on the line.  Faith that technology companies are looking out for our good first.

I have followed their common “appeal” form but no response for three days.  Also connected with one of the VPs over the weekend and it still takes time until receiving this today!  Just more of a reflection of how cold a company can treat someone very poorly: without any information, and lack of ability to move forward in their life (can I get real reasons if any, can I get advance notice, can I get my contact list back from gmail, and why are university properties unrelated to my blog shut down?) 

We are going to be looking back on this time in Google’s history and those of other social media and know that they have done some very immoral and confusing things, and it has hurt their public reputation with decent people who wanted to grow into the next future with them


froze25 (not verified) tmosley Mon, 08/21/2017 - 12:07 Permalink

Google, "do no evil" my ass, they are the black glove around the globe. They are using their mass data collection for predictive analysis so that they can see where trends are leading to and then influence the population to create the future they want. Super Dangerous company for freedom. You think its a coincidence that freedom orientated videos are black balled while ISIS propaganda stays up?

In reply to by tmosley

macholatte CheapBastard Mon, 08/21/2017 - 12:26 Permalink

 Pathetic graveling by a statistics geek begging God Google to give him just one more chance. What were the odds, professor?Give me back my broken nightmy mirrored room, my secret lifeit's lonely here,there's no one left to tortureGive me absolute controlover every living soulAnd lie beside me, baby,that's an order!Give me crack and anal sexTake the only tree that's leftand stuff it up the holein your cultureGive me back the Berlin wallgive me Stalin and St PaulI've seen the future, brother:it is murder. – Leonard Cohen 

In reply to by CheapBastard

toady sincerely_yours Mon, 08/21/2017 - 14:11 Permalink

A couple things...first, the easy one; you can't trust any "free" email account. All your emails belong to them. This was common knowledge for decades, but apparently even a professor doesn't know this anymore.Second, The bland "terms of service violation" is today's being fired by telephone. They  (tech companies) just throw that "terms of service violations" out there and hope it's not questioned.I have questioned being removed for "terms of service violations" twice in the last year or so and been reinstated, but never with an apology, or even what the supposed violations were....It's very Orwellian, becoming a non-entity for no stated reason, only to be reinstated for no apparent reason. Strange days indeed. 

In reply to by sincerely_yours

Pairadimes toady Mon, 08/21/2017 - 15:09 Permalink

My Youtube account for this screen name was also shut down summarily, two days ago. Several people I know have had their access to Google services also ended. Funny thing about it is that I haven't published a video in 2 years.I would say this is a planned step by Google to disrupt communications among dissenters of the statist status quo, and given the simultaneous shutdowns of so many accounts, it's been in the works for awhile.

In reply to by toady

Kayman toady Mon, 08/21/2017 - 15:24 Permalink

Google is the result of breathing their own exhaust- oblivious that Google is but a legal construct the exists at the pleasure of government. And supposedly Government is of the people.The more Google "filters" out what is acceptable to Google, using a yardstick of Google's making, the closer Google becomes exactly what they claim they are filtering out.  Arrogance blended with willful ignorance becomes dictatorship and all dictatorships end in death.

In reply to by toady

Yog Soggoth toady Mon, 08/21/2017 - 16:28 Permalink

When a moderater can ban you on a (even partially funded) government website, you know that jackboots are coming. Bob Henson will have his day in science court., if he does not die from old age. If you get banned for contesting global warming, then it is even more proof that it is fake! Overhyped, multiple named tropical storms, blaming cold weather events on man made  on global warming, and now  eclipse glasses - Total Solar Eclipse 2017 - Start Page overhyping the eclipse of the sun for short term gains with the media complicit in this act of science fraud. There was no 60 to 80 % eclipse in Lakeland, Florida, yet the kids were all too excited to ask their parents for the money so they could view it and be safe. The percentage models were different in every site and source so as to purposefully obsfucate the true crime committed.

In reply to by toady

Kafir Goyim techpriest Mon, 08/21/2017 - 14:46 Permalink

I, personally, see a huge opportunity in the form of self-hosted content. 

I agree.   The SAFE Network will allow self publishing which will be impossible for even governments to take down.  It has been in development for 10 years, which is much longer than bitcoin itself, so it's not some cut and paste blockchain based shitcoin.  It is only now finally approaching launch.   I am counting the months until it is active and we can get back to the open internet we all thought we were getting in the 90's.

In reply to by techpriest

Col_Sanders techpriest Mon, 08/21/2017 - 15:04 Permalink

The problem - for everyone trying to set up their own servers - is that at some point, someone *has* to host *something* of yours.Your IP space, DNS, BGP, the actual pipe that carries the last mile of your traffic....Any one of these is sufficient as a control over you and what you say or do online.If they don't want your server online, they can simply tell ARIN to erase your authortative DNS records from your IP space.  They can tell the authoritative DNS servers in the center to stop resolving your host names.  They can tell the routers in the center to stop forwarding traffic to your subnet.  Finally they can call your provider and tell them to cut off your access or pull the ethernet cable from your machine.Despite what many believe the Internet - designed to be very decentralized and fault-tolderant - has become anything but.

In reply to by techpriest

techpriest Col_Sanders Mon, 08/21/2017 - 22:18 Permalink

All I can say is, there are plenty of folks in closed countries who have figured out the answer to all of these. Its fun sometimes to talk to missionaries in closed countries in particular - it takes a good bit of work to stay undetected or to pass stuff around through gray networks, but where there is a will, there is a way.

The main thing is, someone has to be there when another person starts questioning everything.

Now, aside from material that could be banned, I've also noticed that in the safer spaces of the Internet, i.e. corporations and universities, people are starting to wonder whether it was such a great idea to hand over their data to Google and Dropbox, like the poor guy in the center of this article. These folks will pay just to make sure that their data has a little more security, perhaps hosted in a box in their own office, accessible only by a local network or VPN. This is what departmental IT staff were supposed to be doing anyway, but these departments are foolishly paying $80k a year to a Dell technician.

In reply to by Col_Sanders

BarkingCat mrtoad Tue, 08/22/2017 - 00:40 Permalink

 Do you remember Napster???Imagine using the similar technology but for hosting websites.Basically a peer to peer web hosting service where the data resides on tons of independent nodes. Each node contains only small portion of the data set but with enough redundancy that compromising the data would be difficult without taking the while network down.

In reply to by mrtoad

Yog Soggoth AllBentOutOfShape Mon, 08/21/2017 - 17:33 Permalink

They expect you to come back begging if they even allow it. It is the same system of the E.U., non elected people making decisions that effect the peons. Even if you went through all the channals available, they could just  put an online version of Drinking Bird | Drinking Happy Bird | Happy Dippy Bird Toy to infuriate you. Brought to you by the same people that sold eclipse glasses to kids that they will never use again and the glass is no different than regular welding glasses, and most likely inferior.

In reply to by AllBentOutOfShape

Trogdor CheapBastard Mon, 08/21/2017 - 18:09 Permalink

I would love to see Under Armour truly go "under".  Petty company run by petty, cowardly, slimy people.  A few years back, they decided to SUE everyone with the word "Armor" in their name - hoping to get mass out-of-court settlements (took a page from the RIAA and MPAA).  It didn't matter to their filthy scumbag lawyers if the company they were extorting was one guy in his garage, they sued them anyway.  I will never buy their crap - there are plenty of excellent alternatives.

In reply to by CheapBastard

Blankenstein froze25 (not verified) Mon, 08/21/2017 - 13:20 Permalink

Just like the Kissimmee Florida cop killer who claimed to be a member of an extremist Black group.  And he had changed his name, yet the MSM only used his prior name.  New name - Malik Mohammad Ali.  This story was drowned out by all the coverage of Charlottesville.…

In reply to by froze25 (not verified)