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Google Map Hackers Destroying Small Businesses
turbocharged




msg:4686325
 11:35 am on Jul 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

But these days, Bertagna isn’t serving so much as a whisker. It began in early 2012, when he experienced a sudden 75 percent drop off in customers on the weekend, the time he normally did most of his business. The slump continued for months, for no apparent reason. Bertagna’s profits plummeted, he was forced to lay off some of his staff, and he struggled to understand what was happening. Only later did Bertagna come to suspect that he was the victim of a gaping vulnerability that made his Google listings open to manipulation.

Small businesses are the usual targets. In a typical case in 2010, Buffalo-based Barbara Oliver & Co Jewelry saw its Google Maps listing changed to “permanently closed” at the exact same time that it was flooded with fake and highly unfavorable customer reviews.

Read at [wired.com...]

Related:

The owner of the 'Serbian Crown' restaurant is taking Google to court. The eatery suffered a 75 percent drop in customers over weekends in early 2012, and for a long time, owner Rene Bertagna could not understand what was going on. Then, a regular diner mentioned Google Places had listed Serbian Crown as closed on weekends and Mondays.

Read at [news.yahoo.com...]

My questions:

Google's footprint in the overall economy is rather large. With their vast wealth, should Google be compelled to invest more money to ensure the information they provide to consumers in local listings is accurate? Would this not improve the user experience while also protecting small businesses from negative SEO attacks, fake reviews, etc. on their local listings? And finally, should Google be held liable for damages resulting from malicious edits that were made possible because of a lack of security?

 

martinibuster




msg:4686347
 12:45 pm on Jul 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

...should Google be held liable for damages...


Can a newspaper be held liable because a reviewer didn't like his meal, movie or theater show?

The SERPs are like an opinion. That's at the heart of Google's defense whenever they are sued. They have a right to their free speech, to express their opinion of what the answer is when someone asks a question at Google.

...should Google be compelled to invest more money to ensure the information they provide to consumers in local listings is accurate?


Google doesn't need to be forced to spend more money. They're already plowing money into research and startup purchases. Google, Bing, Yahoo all strive to provide the best answer to a query. The one that gets it right most of the time will become the most popular over time. It's not just search, either. There are other ways of providing information and all of those companies and more are investing money into those ways of organizing information. Information is not just answering search queries either.

mrengine




msg:4686387
 3:15 pm on Jul 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

With their vast wealth, should Google be compelled to invest more money to ensure the information they provide to consumers in local listings is accurate?

Google has a poor track record when it comes to customer service. Don't expect them to invest money into anything that does not offer them a quick ROI.

The SERPs are like an opinion.

These are not SERPS in the normal sense but actual community edits to Google Places listings that Google then displays in their search results. The information contained in the listings in question have not been crawled and are hosted by Google. Surely at some point Google will find themselves outside of the protections afforded to them as being a "search engine" when displayed data has been generated through a Google service.

Add daily places/maps monitoring to the chore list to maintain a business presence in Google. I must admit I found the picture of the AAA Locksmith location in the middle of the ocean quite entertaining.

engine




msg:4686406
 4:03 pm on Jul 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

When I read that story originally, I agree that the attempt to sue Google is likely to fail. Surely, they should be going after the competitors for creating the false entries. That way it's more likely to succeed, imho. IANAL

Creating false entries for others could bounce back and bite when unexpected.

lucy24




msg:4686614
 10:55 am on Jul 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

Can a newspaper be held liable because a reviewer didn't like his meal, movie or theater show?

I don't think that's the right analogy. It's closer to: Is the newspaper liable if it prints factually incorrect information? Historically the nearest analogies are to print advertising.

But if a newspaper leaves its offices open overnight, unstaffed, and a competitor's cat gets at the copy, that's a different matter.

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