Digital maps are a modern marvel – until they’re hijacked

Today’s digital maps are seemingly more useful and precise than ever. But they aren’t always as dependable as they seem.

In August, for instance, Snapchat users found the app’s internal map had renamed New York City with the anti-Semitic label “Jewtropolis.” In Washington, D.C., Google Maps incorrectly renamed a Senate office building after the late Sen. John McCain a few days after his death.

And researchers have found numerous fake business listings in Google Maps for plumbers and hotels — apparent attempts to game search results and juice referral traffic.

While these maps rely on some automated data collection, they also depend on crowdsourced information from ordinary people, much the way Wikipedia does. That tends to make maps far more detailed and up-to-date than they would be otherwise. But it also sometimes allows pesky humans to muck things up but good.

Categories: National & International News