Some users on Twitter report that Google removed some of their documents on Google Docs for Terms of Service violations.

Bhaskar Sunkara for instance wrote that Google removed his document on Eastern European post-socialist parties that he stored on Google Drive.

Tfw your finalizing a piece on E. Europe post-socialist parties in Google Drive and Google removes it because it’s in violation of its ToS??

Twitter user Rachael Bale reported that here story draft about wildlife crime was frozen for violating Google’s TOS.

Has anyone had @googledocs lock you out of a doc before? My draft of a story about wildlife crime was just frozen for violating their TOS.

She posted follow up messages in which she stated that she reviewed the Google Drive TOS, and that she did not find anything in it that would justify freezing here document.

The message that she got read “This item has been flagged as inappropriate and can no longer be shared”. The only options then and there are to request a review, or to dismiss the message.

The number of users affected by the issue is not known right now. The Twitter posts have received a lot of replies, and some of them from users who reported the same issue.

Google has yet to release an official statement that explains what is happening on Google Docs. The company did confirm on Twitter that it is looking into the matter.

google docs

There are two potential explanations for the behavior: it is either a bug in the software that flags documents incorrectly, or it is deliberate. It seems unlikely that it is deliberate and more likely that it is a bug.

Google Docs users should make sure that they have copies of their documents on local machines or other storage services so that they can still access and work on these documents if they are hit by the issue. If you are not hit yet, make sure you download your important documents to your local system.

Many users on Twitter assume that Google is reading all documents and flagging documents based on the automated parsing of the content. The Google Drive TOS give Google the right to do so, as you grant Google a worldwide license for anything that you upload to the service.

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through Google Drive, you give Google a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our services, and to develop new ones

My advice? Don’t store anything of importance in the cloud; if you do store files in the cloud, make sure you have a local backup as well.

Now You: Do you host your documents online?

About Martin Brinkmann

Martin Brinkmann is a journalist from Germany who founded Ghacks Technology News Back in 2005. He is passionate about all things tech and knows the Internet and computers like the back of his hand.You can follow Martin on Facebook, Twitter or Google+