In March, Google plans to shut down its largely unpopular Map Maker feature, says Steven C. Wyer of Third Coast Interactive, Inc. Despite its flaws and negative reception, small and medium-size business owners should be wary of its dissolution.
According to Steven C. Wyer, Map Maker has been the subject of bad press over the years due to rampant user abuse. In 2015, Map Maker was temporarily shut down while Google rectified a number of high-profile cases of spam related to the service, Steven C. Wyer reports. Map Maker has been used to spread racial slurs and passive-aggressive political statement across the Internet.
When Google announced recently that Map Maker was soon-to-be history, many people rejoiced. It is not, however, a time to celebrate, cautions Steven C. Wyer.
Steven C. Wyer believes the termination of Map Maker simply allows spammers to remain completely anonymous as they turn to Google Maps to make their mischief. The chief differences between the two are that changes in Map Maker are recorded publicly while suggested edits – which are typically not reviewed – to Google Maps remain entirely hidden to all except Google. This is a problem for business owners who may not check their Google listing every day, explains Steven C. Wyer.
Suggested edits within Google Maps can be detrimental for a business, Steven C. Wyer reports. For instance, in 2016 the listing for Trump Towers was temporarily removed when someone suggested the completely legitimate listing was fallacious. The White House, too, has not been exempted from malevolent attacks by Map Maker users. Racial slurs directed at former Pres. Obama have, on more than one occasion, been tagged as a search term for the White House.
Political figures aren’t even the bull’s-eye that spammers target most often, Steven C. Wyer insists. In November 2016, and unscrupulous lead collection agency replaced the phone number for approximately 60 insurance companies with their own toll-free telephone numbers. In this case, searchers hoping for new life, health, or auto insurance unwittingly gave their information to a company who then sold it to the highest bidder, says Steven C. Wyer.
Further complicating matters, business owners are not alerted to changes via Google Maps. Steven C. Wyer notes that most are made aware of issues when they are discovered by accident or, occasionally, by a customer. Spammers additionally still have the capability of creating fake listings and reporting legitimate companies as spam. Once branded as such, it can take a week or more for the business owner to reinstate their listing, which as Steven C. Wyer points out, costs a business customers and leads to lost income.
For now, Steven C. Wyer asserts it is in the best interest of a company to claim their listing via Google My Business and monitor for changes each day. When unauthorized changes are made, they can be returned to normal through the Dashboard. However, there is nothing stopping a competitor, angry customer, or other individual intent on harming the business from doing it again, laments Steven C. Wyer.
Steven C. Wyer has been guiding people through the deepest depths of the Internet since 2006. For more information or to contact Third Coast Interactive, visit 3Ci.com.