Google Temporarily Removes the Chat App Element From Play Store After An Error Report

Google has temporarily removed the end-to-end encrypted chat app Element, previously known as Riot, from the Google Play Store following an error report. The app has now been replaced, according to the development team. Element is based on the Matrix open source framework and provides end-to-end encrypted encryption for chat, video conferencing, file sharing and conversations.

A big difference from other chat apps and collaboration tools is that it uses Matrix, an open network for secure and decentralized communication. Organizations can host their own Matrix server that Element users can connect to, keeping full control over their own data and messages.

Element is available for both desktops and smartphones. The Android version has more than 100,000 installations. Yesterday, Element was removed from the Google Play Store, without Google's developers being told why. Hours later, Google released a generic statement that the app had been removed because someone had complained about content on a Matrix server.

Element then informed that it has no control over the content that people post on their own Matrix server, just as Google has no control over the content of websites. Element is a generic chat app to connect to the Matrix network, much like Google Chrome is used to visit the web. Element also hosts its own servers for which terms of use apply and it occurs when there is abuse.

In this case, the error message was about the server, which is hosted by Element itself. Element says it has already taken action because of this content. Eventually, a Google vice president contacted Element and apologized for the poor communication. After the Element team explained how the network worked and a 'communication channel' was set up for future questions, the app was put back by Google. In addition to the Play Store , element can also be downloaded from the alternative marketplace F-Droid .

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