Thanks to some folks who enjoy creating hacks, Google has temporarily suspended Google Map Maker, which is a service that lets the community create edits to Google Maps, which isn’t too unlike Wikipedia. Recently, public edits were the cause of the suspension due to the fact of how easy it is to create fraudulent edits to businesses.
We’ve seen loopholes like how Edward Snowden was at the White House and how Android relieved itself on Apple as examples of these types of hacks. This sort of work has been going on for a while now, and it took Bryan Seely to show how to expose these loopholes to the world. Because of Seely, Google had no other choice but to suspend Map Maker, until they can find a fix.
If you try accessing Google Map Maker, this is the message you’ll come across. “Map Maker will be temporarily unavailable for editing starting May 12, 2015. We are terribly sorry for the interruption this outage might cause to your mapping projects. Please bear with us and plan your activities suitably.”
If you follow the link on the message, you’ll get an explanation from Pavithra Kanakarajan, along with the rest of the Google Map Maker team that says:
As some of you know already, we have been experiencing escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months. 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. 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.
We have been analyzing the problem and have made several changes. However, it is becoming clear that fixing some of this is actually going to take longer than a few days. As you can imagine, turning automated and user moderation off has the direct implication of very large backlogs of edits requiring manual review. This in turn means your edits will take a long time to get published.
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.
We have hence decided to temporarily disable editing across all countries starting Tuesday, May 12, 2015, till we have our moderation system back in action. This will be a temporary situation and one that we hope to come out of as soon as possible.
While this is a very difficult, short term decision, we think this will help us get to a better state faster. 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.