Economy, Sci & Tech

Google Bans User Edited Maps

Google Bans User Edited Maps
Google Bans User Edited Maps

Google has announced it is banning user edits to its Google Maps after admitting it can’t stop people from abusing the system. However the policy does not apply to Iran.

In April, the firm was forced to make some on-the-fly edits after a user noticed that someone had created a park in Pakistan in the shape of the company’s Android mascot robot urinating on an Apple Inc.

logo, the Register reports. Another user spotted a similar attack where someone had sketched out, “Google review policy is crap,” and the firm has now decided to take action.

“A strong user in our community chose to go and create a large scale prank on the Map,” said Pavithra Kanakarajan from the Google Map Maker team in a forum post. “As a consequence, we suspended auto-approval and user moderation across the globe, till we figured out ways to add more intelligent mechanisms to prevent such incidents. All of our edits are currently going through a manual review process.”

While manual editing appears to be solving the problem there’s no way Google’s engineers can keep up, he explained, and any new edits were just adding to a backlog of things that need to be checked. So no more edits will be accepted until Google has worked out how.

“While this is a very difficult, short term decision, we think this will help us get to a better state faster,” Kanakarajan said.

“More importantly, we believe it is simply the right thing to do to all of you, our valued users who continue to edit with the hope that your changes might go live as fast as you’ve been used to.”

Google’s no-editing policy doesn’t apply to Iran. The Financial Tribune checked on the Map Maker online editing program and witnessed edits being added even as the newspaper went to print.

Iran’s mapping agency does not have a contract with Google and ultimately the site is entirely reliant upon local users with an interest in cartography to make edits.

The search engine’s wider policy may change again as the heat from this latest embarrassing hack dies down.