Google Maps Glitch Points to Porn Site

Jan 6, 2011 8:00 AM PST
NEW YORK — A glitch in Google Maps recently mislabeled an intersection on New York City’s Roosevelt Island as the home of porn site LiveGirlsUSA.

According to reports, a local news show and website, amNewYork, found a point at the intersection of Coler-Goldwater hospital listed as the adult website last month, that's in fact just a barren corner.

Although Google immediately fixed the problem, tech pros are pointing out that the glitch is highlighting a vulnerability in Google Maps’ listing procedures.

Google spokeswoman Deanna Yick said the search engine giant aggregates a portion of its map information from user contributions, which come in by the thousands regularly and people — not technology — vet that information before it’s added to the maps.

“We allow users to edit business-listings details — such as name or phone number — to help us keep our local search information up to date and comprehensive. We can’t be on the ground in every city and town. … But we recognize that there may be occasional inaccuracies,” Yick said.

According to Chris Watson, co-founder of Everspark Interactive, a company that helps market businesses to Google, New York probably suffers more from these types of problems than anywhere else in the country based on its size and number of contributors.

“If it continues to happen, then it undermines the legitimacy of the service,” Watson said. But he added, “Google gets far too many things right for this instance to have much of an effect.”

These gremlins appear to be common. In fact, Universal Map, the company that owns New York City mapmaker Hagstrom said it doesn’t rely exclusively on Google’s map data.

Tony Daniels, Universal’s special projects manager told amNewYork, “It’s only as good as the last data uploaded, and I’ve seen many of these kinds of errors. [Google is] not always the authority.”

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