Google Cracks Down on Scams and Fake Content on Google Maps

Millions of photos, reviews and other pieces of fraudulent content were removed in 2022.

Oscar Gonzalez Former staff reporter
Oscar Gonzalez is a Texas native who covered video games, conspiracy theories, misinformation and cryptocurrency.
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Oscar Gonzalez
2 min read
Google Maps logo on a phone
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Google on Friday outlined steps it took to stop fake info from making its way onto Google Maps.

Google Maps is a go-to for directions, a way to find public transportation info and even offers a peek into the past thanks to Street View. It also provides a wealth of information that's contributed by people, including videos, reviews, ratings and business information. Some of that user-contributed content, however, can be inaccurate or fraudulent.

With the help of machine learning, the search giant removed millions of pieces of user-submitted fake content from Google Maps in 2022, said Ashish Gupta, Google's engineering director for user-generated content, in a blog post. This included 115 million policy-violating reviews along with 200 million photos and 7 million videos that were "blurry, low quality, or violated our content policies." Google also stopped 20 million attempts to create fake business profiles, Gupta said. 

Google also shared some specific examples of attempts to scam people through Google Maps, including a scheme that involved images with fake phone numbers for businesses. 

"Scammers started overlaying inaccurate phone numbers on top of contributed photos, hoping to trick unsuspecting victims into calling the fraudster instead of the actual business," Gupta explained. 

The company said its machine learning tech was able to pick up on these fake images, removing them from Google Maps faster and in many cases blocking them before they were published. 

For more, check out how to blur your home on Google Maps and how Google Maps can help you figure out dinner.