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These volunteers are fighting with fake reviews, ghost houses, and other fraud on Google Maps

via:cnBeta.COM     time:2018/4/16 12:31:50     readed:359

He opened the application and found that one of the houses next door was listed as a clinic. A telemedicine company also falsely claimed that the actual address was trying to increase business. These crooks hope that potential patients can search for an emergency care center on a nearby map and then dial their number to schedule a house call or a virtual appointment. These growing frauds can have some serious consequences: Waddington found that someone claimed to have taken his child to one of these nonexistent clinics.


Waddington said: “I took a look later and found that more than 40 listings were part of this fake listing. These listings claim to provide care.” He reported on all of these listings. Google deleted a listing heap. However, a few months later, Waddington noticed that someone had created a list and comment that was very similar to the new account.

Alphabet investors see Google Maps as a huge and untapped opportunity. Google’s other mapping application, Waze, recently launched new local commercials, which may be the blueprint for the final strategy of the map. However, the service is plagued by spurious reviews, ghost listings, and potential customer plans and imitators. This is not good for honest business owners who do not use deception. They rely on Google Maps to find information about the surrounding world.

Google stated that it continues to "combat local business spammers" and "invest heavily" to allow users to contribute and mark problems, while also using manual and automated systems to detect fraud. In the past year, Google relied on outsiders to help it find search false news, through its home smart speaker's incorrect response and inappropriate on YouTube.videoIt was attacked.

A volunteer team can also deal with the scams that exist in these Google Maps. Waddington is a group of enthusiastic “Outstanding Contributors” who spend countless free time to answer questions and report spam. Like Waddington, many companies are also building a marketing business around how to properly use Google Maps tools, and are increasingly shocked that Google has not found a better way to curb such prone abusive behavior.

False comments surged

Mike Blumenthal is one of the most famous Google Maps fans. He spent more than 10 years writing about many changes to the service and the development of general local search. He was recently addicted to finding false comments on the map. People use false reviews to support their legitimate business, to break competitors through bad reviews, or to make illegal listings look like they really exist - or to call into their real business (as in the example of an emergency care center), Either generate customer leads and then they will sell the information obtained. There is even an industry of "black hat" search engine optimization experts who specialize in maps and reviews. These companies write fake reviews or write real comments from other websites (such as Yelp) into Google (this is not allowed). Users can find the "Comment Exchange" group on Facebook or on the free website Fiverr or Craigslist

On the crowd selling them.


Blumenthal’s friend has created a handy tool for him to help him track and report in batches on the “audit network” of the linked accounts. He estimates that he reported tens of thousands of false comments to Google and spent more than 1,200 hours on the forum to answer questions, make suggestions, and escalate issues. This work earned him the "Outstanding Contributor" status.

"I'm one of those stupid people who volunteer to spend a lot of time providing free labor for Google," Blumenthal said with a laugh. (His real job is to work for a company that helps companies manage customer feedback, but he uses his free time to complete Google Maps reporting.) Hiding under humor is a very real frustration: he thinks of volunteers like him. Doing something that Google engineers can handle is ridiculous


Blumenthal believes that with all of Google’s advanced data tracking tools, the company should be able to flag obvious fake accounts. The company did take some measures to stop spam and fraud in the local search list. Google is trying to combat garage door repair fraud and other fraudulent services such as locksmiths and plumbers by selling “guaranteed” house ads in certain cities. Google basically promises that these advertisers are legal. However, people searching for “garage door repairs near me” may skip these ads. Users who start searching in Google Maps will not be able to see these lists at all and will be easily affected by fake reviews.


Joy “Hawk” Hawkins, a consultant who helps small businesses manage search results, stated that she had found “falsely bad” numbers of comments in the past year.

Hawkins said: "These false comments may be easily found when you look for them, but unfortunately, the average consumer does not check the details to see who is writing the review. Not many people know about spam." When she withdrew the commentary network, she felt worse, just to find more false comments in a few months.

“Google told you this is a priority and it is working, but at the end of the day, based on the progress I have seen in the past few years, I just don't think it is a fact,” she said. Hawkins' friend Jason Brown is a search consultant and spammer. His mission is to report false reports to the Federal Trade Commission through his website Review Fraud. Brown said: "I spend at least an hour or two a day off to identify, classify, and list companies that are using false reviews and hand them over to Google."

Earlier this year, Google suspended advertising at the Internet addiction treatment center after a series of investigations revealed that the company abused advertising services. But now that these companies cannot pay for advertising, Brown finds that they are trying to use Google Maps.


Brown found a Craigslist ad. When people call numbers associated with real centers near them, the phone operator will direct them to different locations, and if that person registers, they will receive undisclosed commissions in the process. (Seorehab, a website associated with Craigslist Advertising, is connected to TopSeek, which lists Narconon, a drug addiction network attached to Scientology, as one of its customers.)

After Brown found the advertisement, he immediately began to look for any false items that had passed. He found two and he immediately reported to Google. However, Brown believes that until the FTC begins to publish false product information and commentary penalties for more merchants, or if Google begins to issue more severe penalties, the incidence of false information and comments will decrease.

So why didn't Google do better on Google Maps?

Google, a former employee who recently left the Google Maps team, believes that part of the reason for the lack of progress is that Google does not have the best benchmark to measure its progress. Google said that only a very small part of Google's overall commentary content is false, but former employees do not think its system is enough to distinguish false comments.

"In the end, if their measurement results are not significantly different from the previous ones, then it will not cause concern," said the former Google employee. "If they didn't regularly redefine the measurement, then this wouldn't be." Google had previously concluded that only 0.5% of local searches resulted in false listings.

Blumenthal said: "Google should be condemned for a lot of false content. There is a problem of responsibility here, they need to control the problem, and they did not make enough commitments."

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