Google has responded to a Wall Street Journal investigation claiming Maps is home to millions of fake business listings.
According to the article, it examines the issue of fake listings in Google Maps. The following quote is an example of what the WSJ found in one area of New York City:
“A search for plumbers in a swath of New York City found 13 false addresses out of the top 20 Google search results. Only two of the 20 are located where they say and accept customers at their listed addresses, requirements for pushpin listings on Google Maps.”
There are several types of fakes listings out there, including ones that only direct customers to phantom businesses, while others are scamming customers out of significant sums of money.
There are situations where fake listings are set up by competitors to misdirect customers, which is strictly forbidden by Google. But according to the WSJ, the policy isn’t enforced very well.
According to the WSJ’s sources, there are hundreds of thousands of fake listings popping up every month:
“Hundreds of thousands of false listings sprout on Google Maps each month, according to experts. Google says it catches many others before they appear.”
After the publication of the WSJ’s article and eventual spread to audiences, Google published an article on its blog titled “How we fight fake business profiles on Google Maps.”
Although it was careful not to reveal any specifics, Google acknowledged that there is a problem with fake business listings:
“It’s a constant balancing act and we’re continually working on new and better ways to fight these scams using a variety of ever-evolving manual and automated systems. But we can’t share too many details about these efforts without running the risk of actually helping scammers find new ways to beat our systems—which defeats the purpose of all the work we do.”
According to Google, over 3 million fake business profiles were taken down last year. 90% of them were removed before users were even able to see the profile.
85% of the removals were taken down due to Google’s internal systems, while 250,000 of these fake profiles were reported by users.