7 Times Google Maps Straight Up Ruined People’s Lives

The jewelers found that their Google Maps info was telling customers they were “permanently closed,” which killed off everything but foot traffic coming to the stores. A web consultant pinned these sudden changes on a rival jewelry store in their area, which was also caught spamming rivals with bad ratings, raising their own ratings, and tampering with the underlying Google information in order to change their status. For targeting jewelry stores, that must the dumbest version of an Ocean’s 11 long con ever — no diamonds, just a better Yelp rating.

This hack isn’t an isolated incident, either. A restaurant called the Serbian Crown, one of the only places in the U.S. that serves lion meat, lost 75 percent of its business seemingly overnight, and it wasn’t because people were finally put off by eating lion meat. After months of bad business, a customer finally phoned asking why the restaurant was closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. Without the owners’ knowledge, the Google Maps page had been displaying that they were closed three out of seven days a week, and because munching on exotic animals doesn’t exactly draw a lot of walk-ins, the loss of revenue caused the restaurant to shutter.

So why is it so easy for any schmo to hack the Google Maps business info section? Though it looks very fancy with its satellites, the app treated like any other Google page, which means it’s largely crowdsourced — i.e. super vulnerable to interference. In 2014, a hacker even tampered with the FBI and Secret Service Google pages to make a point about these flaws, and successfully managed to record all incoming phone calls to both locations. The Secret Service thanked him for exposing this weakness, presumably by hooking his genitals to an electric “thanking machine.”

Google Maps“The PATRIOT Act allows me to thank you indefinitely.”

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Google Takes Sides On Contested Borders And Increases Geopolitical Tensions

We’ve all had that moment when we got raging mad at Google Maps for taking us to the wrong side of the street from where we know the McDonald’s ought to be. But did you know that countries have the exact same problem? Only their notions of which side should have what can quickly involve border war and missiles? We’ve talked before about that time Nicaragua accidentally invaded Costa Rica thanks to a Google Maps error, but it turns out that this sort of thing isn’t even a rare mishap for Google. It’s par for the course.

Google MapsYou try to make a free navigation app, and then next thing you know …

Like the cartographers of yore, when countries dispute borders, it’s Google Maps’ job to (literally) draw the line somewhere. But unlike in ye medieval times, Google has more than enough space and technology to make it so that all variants of contested borders are constantly shown on its map. But instead of doing that smart, sane thing, Google shows people world maps based on the political stances of whatever countries they’re accessing from. If your government doesn’t recognize a certain other government or border dispute, you don’t get to see that. In an attempt to stay out of politics, Google Maps agrees with whatever country your IP address is showing.

For example, the U.S. views Crimea as “occupied territory,” and accessing Google Maps in the U.S. will display Crimea with a dotted border, denoting its disputed status. But in Russia, Google Maps counts Crimea as part of Russia, with no border ambiguity. Similar disputes have cropped up throughout Google’s history, forcing the company into some pretty tricky political situations, like accidentally giving a German harbor to the Netherlands as if it’s trying to get World War III going.

Google MapsOur leading theory is that a Google employee wanted to be able to keep smoking weed on their boat.

But that’s not the only way Google is making governments pissed. India’s high court blasted Google Maps for publicly displaying the location of their (obviously not that secret) secret military bases, particularly ones that were close to their border with on-again / off-again enemy Pakistan. So the next time you’re mad at Google for forcing you into a blind left that clearly takes two minutes to complete instead of one, at least take some solace in the fact that it didn’t guide you into a nuclear war. And really, isn’t that a reasonable standard to hold map technology to?

Forget Google Maps, just grab a Rand McNally and hope for the best.

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For more, check out The 5 Weirdest Things I Saw Driving For Google Street View and The 24 Most Mind-Blowing Photos Accidentally Taken By Google.

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