Here's how Google Maps cracked down on fake contributions last year

Google Maps navigation
(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has disclosed how it dealt with fake contributions in Maps last year.
  • The navigation service removed more fake reviews and phony business profiles in 2022 than in the previous year.
  • Google chalked this up to an update to its machine learning capabilities, which aided in identifying abusive trends more quickly.

It is no secret that there's a whole community of scammers out there exploiting Google Maps' flaws for profit, primarily because it's so easy to fake listings and reviews on the service that trusting them right away can be risky. That is why Google is always on the lookout for abusive trends, and it has revealed how it bolstered those efforts last year.

Google revealed in a blog post today that it made a significant update to its machine learning capabilities last year to pinpoint abuse patterns in Maps faster than ever. The search giant cited, for example, an uptick in Business Profiles with websites ending in .design or .top — a sure sign that they were fake as far as Google's manual analysis went. Thanks to AI, these bogus profiles were quickly busted and all associated accounts were then removed.

This progress resulted in the blocking of 20 million attempts to create fake business profiles, which Google claims is an increase of 8 million from the previous year. With new measures in place, the internet giant also made sure more than 185,000 businesses were safe from abusive activities on Maps.

Google also discovered that scammers overlaid contributed photos with inaccurate phone numbers in an attempt to lure unsuspecting users into their trap. This could lead victims to call the wrong people rather than the legitimate company that owned the photos. Google's response was a new machine learning model that analyzed image details and layouts to recognize numbers overlaid on submitted photos.

As a result, over 200 million photos and 7 million videos were removed because they were either blurry, low quality, or against Google's content policies. The Mountain View-based company also sued scammers who were impersonating Google and calling consumers to sell fake reviews online.

Speaking of which, the company's problem on that front persists, as evidenced by the sheer volume of fake reviews it removed last year. According to Google, over 115 million fake reviews were blocked or removed in 2022, which is 20% up from the previous year.

Google says it’s working on new ways to clamp down on suspicious activities in Maps by investing in the latest technology.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.