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Abusive Use of Google Maps Being Controlled by Google with Iron Hands

Google always offers a host of services to simplify Internet surfing for users. Among its multiple useful features, is a feature called Google Maps which helps in navigation. But, now it has infused the maps section with a new feature of ‘review’. Yes, under this category, users will be able to review the Continents and Oceans according to their experiences. It is a great feature for users because a part of users can place star ratings on the spots and another part will be able to draw some information from those reviews and star ratings that might be useful for them.

Useful to Bizarre Reviews

Some users are finding it bizarre, but, nonetheless they are having loads of fun with these features. Some of the reviews are weird while others are fun to read. There are reviews that are nice while there are others that are hilarious. Whatever, it is, people are using it in their own way. This has created some serious problems with this feature. Not everything is spic and span about these reviews. Users with dicey intentions are abusing the feature with fake listings which can be treated as fraud on the part of businesses. Earlier, only Google My Business was getting affected by this feature, but now Google Maps and Search are also bearing the brunt of reckless use. Users trying to become more visible on the Internet or trying to make their businesses more visible are faking the listings.

Google of late has removed around 70% of the fake listings off Google Maps according to a newly published data report. The number of online scams has increased over time and the basic difference between the online scams and other types of scams is that the perpetrators are generally closely located to the victims. Google opines, this largely changes the scale and types of abuses. Google in collaboration with the University of California has conducted a study on those miscreants which will help in providing better user experience. Here is an explanation on the key points from the study.

Key Points of the Study

Commonest Fake Listings

A good percentage of people pose as electricians, plumbers, locksmiths and other professionals within the listings. Although Google sorted and discovered the majority of fake listings, the perpetrators created more listings by sourcing the non-existent postal addresses and discarded VoIP contact numbers. Approximately, 1 out of 10 fake listings could be attributed to lawful businesses which the fraudsters managed to claim ownership of. A majority of these businesses are restaurant and hotel ones. These were being paid referral fees for organic interest.

Which process is Being Followed by Google to Curtail Fake Listings?

Google has established a number of ways to curtail this issue about fake listings. The steps taken by the search engine giant are:

  • Advanced Verification for plumbers and locksmiths

  • Additional verification for businesses moving great distance from the original addresses

  • Adapting to anti-spam techniques to identify data discrepancies that are common to fake listings.

  • Recognizing and ignoring texts in address fields that have been tampered intentionally.

  • Controlling bulk registrations at majority of addresses.

According to the report on fake listings published by Google, it has been established that these measures have helped in achieving around 80% in curbing the malpractice. Google has successfully identified and removed around 85% of fake listings before they could appear in public. They are quite satisfied with these measures because they have provided fruitful results. Now, only 0.5% of local searches lead to fake listings which is good news. The entire report on ‘Google Maps Abuse’ along with all the statistics and numbers will be published by Google at the International World Wide Web Conference being held on 7th April, 2017.

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