Google has deactivated the tool that let vandals draw crude things into its map application

Google has deactivated a tool that let users make changes to Google Maps, after an image of an Android “droid” mascot urinating on the Apple logo appeared in the application’s maps, Search Engine Land reports.

The digital graffiti looked like this:

With Map Maker, users can make edits to Google Maps. If those edits are approved, they are added to Google Maps for the public to see. But the approval process clearly lacked regulation. In addition to allowing an anti-Apple message to be carved into a field in Pakistan, a message also popped up in a nearby forest criticising Google’s review process:

The search engine giant is now temporarily deactivating Map Maker altogether, citing “escalated attacks to span Google Maps over the past few months.”

Google product manager Pavithra Kanakarajan says that “given the current state of the system, we have come to the conclusion that it is not fair to any of our users to let them continue to spend time editing. Every edit you make is essentially going to a backlog that is growing very fast.”

Here’s Google’s full statement, via Search Engine Land:

As some of you know already, we have been experiencing escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months. The most recent incident was particularly troubling and unfortunate — a strong user in our community chose to go and create a large scale prank on the Map. As a consequence, we suspended auto-approval and user moderation across the globe, till we figured out ways to add more intelligent mechanisms to prevent such incidents.

All of our edits are currently going through a manual review process.

We have been analysing the problem and have made several changes. However, it is becoming clear that fixing some of this is actually going to take longer than a few days. As you can imagine, turning automated and user moderation off has the direct implication of very large backlogs of edits requiring manual review. This in turn means your edits will take a long time to get published.

Given the current state of the system, we have come to the conclusion that it is not fair to any of our users to let them continue to spend time editing. Every edit you make is essentially going to a backlog that is growing very fast. We believe that it is more fair to only say that if we do not have the capacity to review edits at roughly the rate they come in, we have to take a pause.

We have hence decided to temporarily disable editing across all countries starting Tuesday, May 12, 2015, till we have our moderation system back in action. This will be a temporary situation and one that we hope to come out of as soon as possible.

While this is a very difficult, short term decision, we think this will help us get to a better state faster. More importantly, we believe it is simply the right thing to do to all of you, our valued users who continue to edit with the hope that your changes might go live as fast as you’ve been used to.

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