Google reportedly blocked the account of Mark, a software engineer for child abuse violations. But the AI took the images in a different context than what it was originally captured for. This bizarre case was covered by The New York Times which explained how Google’s presumptions disturbed the peace of Mark and his family.
Mark’s child had a swelling in his genitalia. His wife booked a video consultation with a doctor but the nurse said that the appointment wouldn’t happen until the next day. In the meantime, she advised Mark’s wife to send some photos of the swollen area so that the doctor could review it beforehand.
The couple did as the nurse suggested. They captured some photos of their child’s swollen genitalia and sent them to the nurse. One of the photos had Mark’s hand to compare the size of the swelling. After that Mark’s troubles started with Google.
He got a notification that his account had been disabled because of “harmful content” that was “a severe violation of Google’s policies and might be illegal.” He clicked on the “learn more” link which led to a list of possible reasons, including child sexual abuse & exploitation.
Google was wrong about Mark
Needless to say that Mark wasn’t doing any of that. He was just communicating with the doctor about his child’s problem which Google flagged as sexual abuse. The company disabled all his accounts and he lost his contacts, and e-mails, and was even kicked out of the Google Fi plan.
He couldn’t sign into services because the phone was registered with Google Fi and Google kicked him out of that too. Mark was being penalized for a crime he didn’t commit.
He even contacted Google to review his case with proper proof about the doctor consultation but his plea was never approved. In a statement, Google said, “Child sexual abuse material is abhorrent and we’re committed to preventing the spread of it on our platforms.”
San Francisco Police Department started to investigate Mark for an older video he made. However, the conclusion was that Mark didn’t do anything criminal. Mark again sent the police report to Google asking them to reinstate the account but that didn’t happen.
Thus, AI flagged something totally useless and is the reason why Mark cannot access most of his digital life anymore.