The prank where Android was peeing over Apple logo on Google Maps in Rawalpindi’s vicinity has forced Google to halt its map editing operations. Yes, it’s the same incident that happened a couple of weeks ago and was viewed by millions across the world. Google took down the image and confirmed it was indeed a user edited map but concurrently also showed there was a weakness in the map editing tool’s moderation system.
The fiasco happened due to a security loophole which allowed someone to post that image on to Google Maps. Apparently, this was not the only instance where users misused Google’s Map Maker Tool. Due to the increasingly difficult situation, Google was forced to shut down its map editing tool for the time being to prevent anymore “bad edits”.
Users were informed that the service will be unavailable starting 12th May
The Map Maker homepage greeted users with a pop-up message informing them that the service will be unavailable starting 12th May. Google provided additional information via its Map Maker team who explained the details regarding what went wrong. The team members explained that they initially tried to remedy the problem by removing the automated approval system and community moderations. This led to manual operations and the ever increasing backlog of user edits became unmanageable very soon.
The team couldn’t handle all edits on a one-on-one basis so they were forced to shut down the service. Google will bring back the map editing functionality after they have gone through the backlog and reset the queue. Google’s team is working on enhancing the current moderation system to prevent any such instance from occurring again. Google admits its temporary but it also that it might take a few days until the Map Maker is back up again.
Google will bring back the map editing functionality after they have gone through the backlog and reset the queue
The prank was given worldwide press coverage and everybody (except Apple and their fans) had a good laugh about it, but things went out of control when more users started attempting such pranks to gain press coverage. It can be seen how a useful tool can be misused and then lead to so much trouble. On the other hand, this instance will lead to an improved moderation system and the Map Maker tool better.
We don’t know what the original prankster’s intentions were with this prank but seeing how Pakistan keeps getting bad press all over the world this could not help improve Pakistan’s image in the long run. Google could be forced to employ harsher policies (maybe especially for us) which might lead to increasing difficulty in using such tools. We should try our level best to present Pakistan’s best image to the rest of the world and refrain from such negative use of the facilities provided to us.