Google has suspended its ‘MapMaker’, a popular browser-based online mapping service that allowed users to map information to accurately locate businesses and places across the globe. This online mapping tool has allowed people in over 200 countries to add various details and points of interest to Google Maps. However, following a spate of spammy attacks and uploading of unfavorable content, the last straw on the camel’s back being labeling the US President Barrack Obama with a derogatory and racial term in its search, the search giant was almost compelled to clamp down on its service by taking it offline.
Google had been already combating scores of hacking attempts on Maps prior to this with most of them being successfully thwarted. This time around, things were pretty much serious and offensive leading to a temporary shutdown of the service that could have possibly led to playful victimization of many other historical landmarks and institutions. Google was fast to act in rendering an apology that goes this way:
“This week, we had some problems with Google Maps, which was displaying results for certain offensive search queries…
Google clarified that the shutdown is not permanent as the experts are busy at work trying to establish a more robust and flawless moderation system to prevent online mischief-makers getting away from their dark and odious exploits. The automated approval and user moderation across the world has been suspended till the search giant charts out a more effective spam detection system in place to prevent such incidents in future. Google had taken several steps to resolve the spam issue after several loopholes came into light over the years, but the latest spams call for a larger and unique solution to fix the issue. Currently all edits are undergoing a manual review process which is certainly not a feasible solution considering the enormity of the platform. The sudden removal of service has affected SEO with location detection of businesses and rankings of local results with the current crisis being almost like a bug with Google’s location detection structure. Experts at Google are working at updating ranking system to through major algorithmic changes that could be rolled out in phases.
Google’s Map Maker, launched in 2008 allowed users to add and edit the maps for almost every kind of location be it parks, lakes, roads, hotels, businesses, buildings, walking trails, complex road routes, walking trails, etc. becoming like a Wikipedia for maps allowing even unmapped areas of the globe to get featured. This process based on trust, it gave auto-approvals to active users who already had a few approvals to their credit and fast tracking the entire procedure. The latest incident that brought this hugely successful map editor under fire was orchestrated by “a strong user in our community”, who took advantage of the trust of auto-approvals, says Google who is also investigating earlier hacks given the good history of edits of these users. This revelation also points out to the approval of the edits by those who perhaps found it funny without realizing the impact it would wreak leading to a worldwide closure of the service.
However, with the fix, taking longer than expected, we hope Google is able to come back with a foolproof mapping solution aimed at catering to the requirement and benefit of millions of genuine users!