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Want to land a porn site on the map? Ask Google

amny

amny Photo Credit: Alka Nag

Don’t get too excited. There’s absolutely nothing, not even a trace of the porn industry, at the Roosevelt Island intersection where Google Maps plotted porn site livegirlsusa.com.

 

Anyone who looked at a Google map of Roosevelt Island recently might have thought the girls there had gone wild.

In December, amNewYork found a point at an intersection near Coler-Goldwater hospital labeled as livegirlsusa.com, a porn site.

There’s just one problem: The only thing at that intersection is … nothing.

Google removed the listing immediately, but it didn’t wipe away the fact that it highlights a vulnerability in Google Maps’ listing procedures, which some observers suggest is a liability for the search-engine giant. 

Google spokeswoman Deanna Yick explained the mishap, saying that the company aggregates a portion of its map information from user contributions, which come in by the thousands regularly. Human beings vet that information before it’s added to the maps.

“We allow users to edit business-listings details — such as name or phone number — to help us keep our local search information up to date and comprehensive,” Yick said. “We can’t be on the ground in every city and town. … But we recognize that there may be occasional inaccuracies.” 

It’s likely that the city is witnessing more of these glitches than anywhere else in the country, based on the sheer number of contributors, said Chris Watson, co-founder of Everspark Interactive, a company that helps market businesses to Google. And that’s a big turn-off.

“If it continues to happen, then it undermines the legitimacy of the service,” Watson said. But, he added, “Google gets far too many things right for this instance to have much of an effect.”

Inaccuracies happen so often that Universal Map, the company that owns New York City mapmaker Hagstrom, won’t exclusively rely on Google’s map data, said Tony Daniels, Universal’s special-projects manager.

“It’s only as good as the last data uploaded,” Daniels said, “and I’ve seen many of these kinds of errors. [Google is] not always the authority.”

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