Like much of humanity, I use Chrome as my internet browser. I started out using Netscape as did almost everybody in the 90s. Microsoft bullied Netscape out of existence by bundling its late to the game browser Internet Explorer with its operating systems which were included on OEMs. In a few years Netscape was fit only for butter and ceased existence. Its open source code became the basis for Mozilla’s Firefox.

Then Google got into the game. I’m ignoring Apple’s browsers and the other boutique brands, at least for now. Chrome became the world’s leading browser. (See below)

Data as of May 2020

Chrome, like the other browsers, has more features than a Norwegian rat has fleas. I use a few of them, but if graded on my knowledge of all of them, I would get an F minus. Of course, the browser is just a part of Google’s empire. Their vast domain also handles the mysterious things my Android phone does. Here too, I deserve an F minus. Alphabet (their nom de société) simultaneously reads all my emails and keeps track of everywhere I go. It even sends me a monthly report telling me where I’ve gone during those past 30 days. Then to rub it in, it also offers to show where I’ve been since 2009. And when I look, Google is right. People who worry about big government are looking in the wrong direction. I suppose I could turn off some of these “services” if I bothered or knew how – at least for now.

Google also determines much of what you can watch as it owns YouTube. Everybody knows, or should know, about their sanction of unreceived opinion. Don’t you love the world sanction? It means both disapproval and approval. You have to put in the correct context. Doing so is not always easy. For example, ‘The UN sanctioned Taiwan because it a small country.” Here the word means that the UN put the kibosh on the island nation or whatever it’s supposed to be. The there’s, “The UN sanctioned China’s takeover of Tibet.” Now sanction means that it was OK for China to swallow another country.

If you’re confused here’s what Google, the all powerful, says about the word.

1. A threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule.
2. Official permission or approval for an action.

So where was I? Ah, permission to view. Chrome has more insidious ways of controlling what you watch or listen to. It or they (singular and plural nouns and pronouns are inadequate when dealing with behemoths in addition to being dangerous) may decide to turn off the radio station you’re listening to. Such a sanction (there it is again) happens to me regularly whenever I stray from any program that’s not mellow. NPR is always allowed.

Just yesterday Chrome decided that HBO’s Game of Thrones was too graphic (you know what I mean) and violent for someone as delicate as myself to watch. First it sanctioned just one episode. When that had no effect it barred all of Season 1. Then in a fit of explosive disapproval it canned all of HBO. Finally, one after another streaming service disappeared. After two hour only PBS was up. The network was an internet iteration of the Cheshire Cat.

But I wised up to Google and knew how to fight back. I went to one of the boutique browsers I alluded to above. I won’t mention which one as Google might immediately retaliate. HBO was back, I could watch as much graphic content as my tired eyeballs could absorb. I could listen to as many blacklisted programs as I could stand. I was free to surf.

Just as sanction is a contronym, the first word in this article’s title is a heteronym. Both of its forms apply to Chrome. It’s easy to use except when it isn’t. Facile, but also a memory hog. Open too many tabs and CCleaner and a restart are your only solutions. Cato Censorius is now the lead software engineer at Alphabet in charge of Chrome. Caveat lector.