A number of Google Docs users have reported being locked out of their documents today for, according to the message that pops up when they try to access the affected document, violating Google’s terms of service. Users that have tweeted about the issue have said their locked-out pieces were about a range of topics including wildfire crimes, post-socialist eastern Europe and a response to reviewers of an academic journal submission.
A Google spokesperson told us, “We’re investigating reports of an issue with Google Docs. We will provide more information when appropriate.” The range of subject matters and number of reports suggest it’s probably just a glitch, but the problem is a reminder of what we give up for the convenience and ease offered by cloud-based programs like Docs. Google Docs and others like it allow users to store their work offline, making it easily accessible wherever they happen to be. They also make it easy to share documents between a number of different people. But giving up control over your work comes with risks, as today’s issues make clear. And though they’re fairly rare, they can cause huge problems.
For example, Twitter user @widdowquinn said that while they had been encouraging others to use Google Docs for collaborative work on grants and academic papers, today’s glitch is a deal breaker.
Gee, you think? Google can shut you out from your own documents, because it violates their, “Terms of service,” and because it’s Google, which means that you will never, ever get even remotely close to a human being.