Web Excursions 2021-07-17

Google makes it clear that it will censor files in Drive and Doc services for “misleading” and “manipulated” content; Why the extended uses of NDA may curb innovations.

Abuse Program Policies and Enforcement

  • The program policies below apply to Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and new Sites. The policies play an important role in maintaining a positive experience for everyone using Google products. 

  • We need to curb abuses that threaten our ability to provide these services, and we ask that everyone abide by the policies below to help us achieve this goal. After we are notified of a potential policy violation, we may review the content and take action, including restricting access to the content, removing the content, and limiting or terminating a user’s access to Google products.

  • Misleading Content. Do not distribute content that deceives, misleads, or confuses users. This includes:

  • Misleading content related to civic and democratic processes: Content that is demonstrably false and could significantly undermine participation or trust in civic or democratic processes. This includes information about public voting procedures, political candidate eligibility based on age / birthplace, election results, or census participation that contradicts official government records. It also includes incorrect claims that a political figure or government official has died, been involved in an accident, or is suffering from a sudden serious illness.

  • Misleading content related to harmful health practices

  • Manipulated media: Media that has been technically manipulated or doctored in a way that misleads users and may pose a serious risk of egregious harm.

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    • In some cases, no amount of context will allow this content to remain on our platforms. 


  • crazygringo: it's not about private files, it's about distributing content. Google isn't spying on your private files, but does scan them when you share them publicly.

The case for banning non-competes - by Matthew Yglesias - Slow Boring

  • The question here is roughly something like “is innovation difficult, or is innovation expensive?”

    • If innovation is expensive then you’ll support all kinds of policies that enrich the owners of the most innovative enterprises,

      • because maximizing the financial returns of innovation is critical to maximizing the quantity of innovation-facilitating financial inputs.

    • But suppose instead that innovation is difficult.

      • if the primary impediment to innovation is that it’s objectively difficult, then

        • you’ll be interested not in maximizing the financial rewards

        • but in maximizing the diffusion of ideas.

  • The issue with non-compete agreements is that normally in the United States we give employers and employees broad latitude to agree to whatever they want to agree to.

    • Back 100 years ago, the Supreme Court was really hard-core about this and decided there was a fundamental “freedom of contract” that minimum wage or mandatory overtime laws violated

    • in recent years, some economists have started talking a lot about the labor market as subject to endemic monopsony issues

  • In big picture terms, the case against non-competes has gathered steam from two big sources.

    • The observation that California has a lot of policy problems, but does seem like the best place in America for innovative high-growth companies to launch.

      • California is also unusual in that state laws make it impossible to enforce non-compete agreements there.

    • A surprisingly large share of low-income workers was bound by non-compete agreements, which don’t seem to be even notionally directed at the preservation of company secrets

  • To a considerable extent, the success of SV hinges on poaching.

    • Silicon Valley was a good place to grow Facebook because fast-growing Facebook could poach from older tech companies.

    • And Silicon Valley is a good place to launch a startup today because you can poach from Facebook.

  • You can’t will innovations into existence with resources and incentives; you need ideas and vision, and they are just objectively in short supply

  • While letting companies better defend their business methods might let them capture a larger share of the upside of innovation, it seems unlikely to me that it would meaningfully increase the amount of innovation.

    • On the contrary, the diffusion of ideas out from innovative firms could have significant social benefits.

    • If the digital news startups had locked their workers down, the NY Times wouldn’t just be lacking individual journalists

      • they’d be lacking certain elements of digital-savvy that they imported directly from the innovators.

  • I wish I could tell you that banning non-competes would single-handedly solve the non-diffusion problem,

    • but I don’t see any reason to think that’s true.

    • What is true is that if banning non-competes makes it harder for innovative companies to keep their ideas locked up, that would be a good thing.