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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019

A peeing droid has caused Google to suspend its map editing service

A “strong user” who had auto-approval privileges was responsible for the prank.

YOU MAY REMEMBER a few weeks ago a certain edit on Google Maps became popular because of something a little unusual.

Instead of highlighting a landmark, the sight in question was an Android droid mascot relieving itself on the Apple logo, placed at Rawalpindi in Pakistan. It was quickly taken down but not before it quickly spread.


The reason this appeared is because of Map Maker, a section which allows anyone to contribute to the service.

Google’s approval process is one where the first batch of edits are manually approved until a user reaches a certain number of approvals.

Once that’s achieved, they become trusted users and future edits are auto-approved. The above edit was said to be from a user who had these privileges and decides to add the above image to Google Maps.

As a result, Google has temporarily disabled Map Maker from today as it develops “more intelligent mechanisms to prevent such incidents.”

One of the members of Google Map Maker, Pavithra Kanakarajan, said that the decision was taken because of the massive backlog of edits.

Since automated and user moderation has been turned off because of the prank, the volume of manual edits means it will take longer than a few days to filter through.

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.

Kanakarajan stressed it is a temporary solution and it would hope to have it resolved “as soon as possible.”

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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