Effective May 12, the greater community can no longer make edits to Google Maps. The move follows years of abuse, but a particularly egregious prank in recent weeks forced Google to put the service on hiatus until it can figure out how best to move forward.
Map Maker is a great tool and has been around for a long time. With it, the larger public can make edits to Google Maps to account for changes in local roads or to make additions where data hasn't been provided by Google or other businesses. Google's Street View cars can only reach so many places. The benefits to crowd-sourcing map data are clear, but so are the drawbacks. Many saw it as an avenue for abuse.
"As some of you know already, we have been experiencing escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months," explained Google's Pavithra Kanakarajan. "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 until we figure out ways to add more intelligent mechanisms to prevent such incidents."
After the prank was first spotted, Google began to manually check each and every edit to the map. It quickly realized it would never be able to get to the massive backlog of edits piling up, however, and decided a full suspension of Map Maker was warranted.
"This will be a temporary situation and one that we hope to come out of as soon as possible," continued Kanakarajan. "While this is a very difficult, short term decision, we think this will help us get to a better state faster. More importantly, we believe it is simply the right thing to do to all of you, our valued users who continue to edit with the hope that your changes might go live as fast as you’ve been used to."
Google has not named the prankster, nor has the search giant indicated that it knows who the prankster even is. In the meantime, none of the rest of us get to edit Google Maps via Map Maker.
Thanks a lot, bud.