There’s a reason that people prefer using Google Maps over other mapping applications: It’s just a flat-out terrific service. That said, there is one downside to having Google Maps serve as the de facto online mapping service: It’s a major target for hackers who can use it to effectively ruin small businesses.
Wired brings us the sad tale of a once-popular restaurant in Northern Virginia whose business mysteriously dried up for no apparent reason in early 2012. Although the restaurant couldn’t figure out why its sales were tanking in time to prevent itself from going under, its owner eventually discovered that a rival restaurant had apparently changed the business’s hours on Google Places to make it look as though the restaurant was closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
Because the restaurant was in an out-of-the-way location, many people searching for it saw that it was closed on the weekends and never bothered to drive out to see for themselves. The restaurant’s owner is now actually suing Google in court for allegedly ruining his business, although Wired notes that this suit probably has as much chance of being successful as Lindsay Lohan’s suit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto 5.
Even so, Wired’s piece does raise some interesting issues. Google Maps has become so important in our daily lives that mapping errors on the service could absolutely break small businesses. Wired notes that although the restaurant in question tried to contact Google to get this issue fixed, it had no luck in getting a correction — this suggests that there needs to be a better way for Google to quickly implement key changes for businesses or that it needs to do a better job of showing businesses how to use tools such as Google Places so they can fix mistakes themselves.
Either way, the full Wired piece is worth your time and can be found by clicking the source link below.