Google Stops Map Maker Because of Vandalism

Google Maps Edward Snowden Hack

The Map Maker service offered by Google which allows members of the public to modify Google Maps has been suspended because of increased vandalism.

Map Maker allowed people to draw features on Google Maps like green spaces, rivers, roads, and local businesses. However there have been some people like Nitricboy going too far and creating green spaces depicting things like the Android logo urinating on an Apple logo. Google has since removed and apologized for the image.

Google said it had to shutdown the service for a few days while it tries to fix the remaining hacks.

Map Maker relied on Reviewers and trusted users to moderate the countless contributions to Google Maps. However Google now admits that these safeguards and inadequate and a new vetting system needs to be in place.

Pavirthra Kanakarajan, a Map Maker team member, said in a post:

We have been experiencing escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months… As a consequence, we suspended auto-approval and user moderation across the globe,

The most recent incident was particularly troubling and unfortunate – a strong user in our community chose to go and create a large scale prank on the map,

Following the Android graffiti, Google decided that all its edits would go through a manual review process but that quickly led to a large backlog.

Given the current state of the system, we have come to the conclusion that it is not fair to any of our users to let them continue to spend time editing. Every edit you make is essentially going to a backlog that is growing very fast,

We believe that it is more fair to only say that if we do not have the capacity to review edits at roughly the rate they come in, we have to take a pause.

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