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Google Play bans open-source Matrix client Element, citing “abusive content”

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The latest app to catch an illogical ban from the Google Play Store is Element, an open-source, end-to-end encrypted messaging client for the federated Matrix chat protocol. Google banned Element late Friday night, a ban which Element said "is due to abusive content somewhere on Matrix." Matrix has millions of users, and as a federated chat protocol, Element does not control the content on Matrix, so this is a bit like banning a web browser for displaying web content. Element says it is working with Google to "explain how Element works and get the situation resolved."

Google has been cracking down on apps that display hateful content, but Element says that it shouldn't be part of the crackdown. "We have also explained that the Matrix servers that we do run as Element (including the default Matrix.org homeserver, which we run on behalf of The Matrix.org Foundation) have strict Terms of Use which we actively enforce," Element said. "We abhor abuse, and Element is not an app that caters to abusive content."

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Google reinstates federated chat app Element

Element suspended on Google Play Store: now resolved.

  • Element suspended on Google Play Store: now resolved.

    UPDATE: At 2020-01-30 23:17 UTC we received a call from a VP at Google who apologised for the bad communication from Google and explained the situation, which related to some extremely abusive content which was accessible on the default matrix.org homeserver. Our Trust and Safety team had already identified and acted on this content to enforce the server's terms of use, and so we've explained how Element and Matrix works, established a channel for communication over any future moderation concerns, and expect the app to be restored shortly.

    UPDATE: The app is restored as of 2020-01-31 00:30 UTC. Huge thanks to everyone for your patience and support while we sorted this out, and to the wider Element team who spent their Saturday on this. Thanks also to Google for being transparent and apologetic and the rapid resolution once we'd established contact.

hy did Google BAN this FOSS APP?

  • Why did Google BAN this FOSS APP?

    Google banned the "Element" chat client, which is an open source client used to connect to the Matrix.org chat network. According to Element's blog post, Google removed Element from the Play Store due to "some extremely abusive content" on the Matrix.org home server (which Element moderates).

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