Google Suspends Map Editing After Android Peeing on Apple Incident

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.

Sources: TheNextWeb, Engadget, GoogleProductForums

He is the Editor at ProPakistani.

  • BadarUI

    So sad to hear that

  • BadarUI

    Hello Mappers,

    As some of you know already, we have been experiencing escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months. 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, till we figured out ways to add more intelligent mechanisms to prevent such incidents.

    All of our edits are currently going through a manual review process.

    We have been analyzing the problem and have made several changes. However, it is becoming clear that fixing some of this is actually going to take longer than a few days. As you can imagine, turning automated and user moderation off has the direct implication of very large backlogs of edits requiring manual review. This in turn means your edits will take a long time to get published.

    Given the current state of the system, we have come to the conclusion that it is not fair to any of our users to let them continue to spend time editing. Every edit you make is essentially going to a backlog that is growing very fast. We believe that it is more fair to only say that if we do not have the capacity to review edits at roughly the rate they come in, we have to take a pause.

    We have hence decided to temporarily disable editing across all countries starting Tuesday, May 12, 2015, till we have our moderation system back in action. This will be a temporary situation and one that we hope to come out of as soon as possible.

    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.

    Pavithra Kanakarajan on behalf of Google Map Maker team

  • Zawyar Ur Rehman

    Aadil bro,
    There one small bit of thing that seems quite rude… You said that everyone (except apple and their fans) had a good laugh,.
    I think this sounds quite rude to anybody supporting/liking apple. Including me.
    Indeed i did laugh quite a lot at it but this sentence really feels quite insulting.

    • Aadil

      It’s just a joke. Take it with a light heart.

      • Zawyar Ur Rehman

        Sure adil bro ;) but still, you may someday find someone who takes everything seriously , even the lightest joke!
        I have faced a lot of such people, and a hot-headed apple fanboy might someday read this, he will find you, and he will kill you (joke intended) XD

        • Aadil

          Well, who can stop crazy people? Such people aren’t fanboys(not limited to any one brand) they are just plain crazy jumping to fight anyone who seems to be disagreeing with their favourite brand.

          • Zawyar Ur Rehman

            Lol i know the experience.. I once got into an argument with a fanboy (i dont remember about what) and he just didnt seem to give up!

            • Aadil

              They never give up, Its better to ignore them as mostly they are just trolls.

              • Zawyar Ur Rehman

                Yup, thats what i did in the end ;)

  • CoMrAdO

    One of the Pakistani actually showed his/her bad background…This is ridiculous…