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Google Maps Now Editable by Anyone

In an understated post today to the Google Lat Long blog, a major new wrinkle in online mapping was announced. Google Maps can now be edited by anyone. Once signed in with your Google Account, you can change the details or location of any listing on Google Maps, or delete a location’s listing altogether.

Recent edits, which you can view through a strange interface here are going to be a nightmare.

How will the validity of edits be monitored? I have no idea and the project’s FAQ page is a 404, as is the page for business owners. Sure enough, though, I tested the feature and it is live. There is at least some kind of filtering going on – I wasn’t allowed to change my local Republican Party office’s website to Fleshbot.com. (“may be inappropriate”) Hmph! What fun is that?

Hopefully goofing around with the most important map in the world won’t imperil your (ok, my) webmail account, but Google’s omniscience may be one important deterrent to vandalism. It’s long been unclear how or if users could influence listings and locations on Google Maps. Incorrect information is common. I, for example, have had to live for miles further away from a grocery store that Google Maps said was in my neighborhood before I moved to where I live.

Google’s “click to call” feature, launched in November 2006, didn’t last very long because it was so vulnerable to spoofing. Presumably the company learned from that experience and has a more stable arrangement in place for this major new feature.

This could be very, very big. Will Microsoft’s Live.com maps follow suit?

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