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Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 10 August 2022

Google is moving on from the 'peeing robot' controversy

It’s unlikely you’ll see an edit like that again on Google Maps.

The edit which eventually led to Google Map Maker being temporarily suspended.
The edit which eventually led to Google Map Maker being temporarily suspended.

GOOGLE MAP MAKER will be returning in early August after an edit of an Android robot peeing on an Apple logo led to it being temporarily suspended.

The tool, which allows people to make edits to Google Maps, will now give its users more power to moderate edits and changes made to the service.

Map Maker will be re-opened in phases, starting in early August. The rollout will see certain contributors from each region asked to become a ‘regional lead’ on Map Maker.

Once chosen, any edits made in a region will be reviewed by both Google’s automated moderation systems and the regional leads themselves. Google operators will only moderate edits in these areas occasionally.

“Our loyal users will recognize that this is a departure from how we have operated in the past where majority of your edits were reviewed by Google operators,” said Pavithra Kanakarajan in an update. “This has been a request you’ve made for a very long time, and this change should, hopefully, come as good news.”

The reason for this change is that every time we observed someone attempting to vandalize the map, many of you acted quickly to remove the offending feature and demonstrated real ownership for maps within your region. We have come to the conclusion that of all the defences available to keeping our maps clean, the interest of a community of well-intentioned users, is among the most reliable and fast.

Back in May, Google suspended Map Maker after an edit, placed at Rawalpindi in Pakistan, depicted an Android robot mascot peeing on the Apple logo.

While it was taken down, part of the reason why the edit was allowed was because of Google’s approval system. The first batch of edits are reviewed manually but when a user reaches a certain number of approvals, they became trusted users and future edits are auto-approved, which is how the edit slipped through.

When both automated and user moderation was turned off in response, the Google Map Maker team decided to suspend the service because of the large backlog of edits it had to review.

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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