Yesterday we reported that in a shocking, and explained move, 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, had been banned by Google on Friday, with his email, blog and other Google-linked accounts wiped clean and no longer accessible.
As we discussed yesterday, it was not clear what Salil did to provoke Google:
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.
As Salil explained, he had never engaged in political discourse, and his content was purely math/statistics-focused: "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!)"
And yet, Salil's attempts to get to the bottom of his purge were fruitless:
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.
Until yesterday, Google's only response was a generic form statement it issues to every account that is "in violation of its Terms of Service."
Thank you all very much again, in recent days, for the outpouring of support in my Google predicament. I love you, and together we can and will always achieve great things. Have also spoken with the leadership there, and they restored accounts. I also don’t carry any grievance towards any part of Google, and have no intention of further comments.
Congratulations to Salil, as for Google's creeping censorship of virtually anyone that Google disagrees with (who as recent events have shown, will be prompt fired for speaking out) or is "flagged" for whatever reason, we can only hope that this incident will rein in what many have said is dangerously out-of-control behavior meant to stifle not just legitimate violators of the search giant's TOS, but virtually anyone else who "triggers" wholesale censorship by one of the most important corporations in the world.