Snapchat and other popular apps with maps were vandalised to label New York City as 'Jewtropolis'

  • Snapchat users discovered on Thursday morning that the app’s map labelled New York City as “Jewtropolis.”
  • The cause was vandalism of the mapping software from Mapbox, a third-party company that supplies mapping information to Snapchat, StreetEasy, and Citi Bike.
  • The change went unnoticed by Mapbox and was visible for a few hours Thursday morning until being fixed about 9 a.m. ET.
  • Mapbox confirmed that it was an act of human vandalism, but it still isn’t sure how the change was able to slip through the cracks unnoticed.

Snapchat users took to social media to post screenshots showing the Snap Map labelling New York City as “Jewtropolis” early Thursday morning.

The cause? It turns out that the mapping software company Mapbox, used by Snapchat, the Weather Channel, StreetEasy, Citi Bike, and more, was vandalised to display the anti-Semitic moniker in place of New York City.

The company said the issue was resolved shortly before 9 a.m. ET.

Mapbox is used by a variety of developers and by 400 million people a month, but not all services that rely on Mapbox’s data were affected by the vandalism. Other companies such as Vice and Vox that use Mapbox did not seem to be affected, The Verge reported.

In a statement to Tech Crunch, Mapbox CEO and founder Eric Gundersen said Mapbox uses humans and AI to check for vandalism, but the company is still looking into how this particular act of vandalism slipped through the cracks.

“This is now 100 per cent fixed and should have never happened. It’s disgusting,” Gundersen said, as reported by Tech Crunch. “We’re constantly scanning for this, and it’s an error on our part [to have missed it].”

Mapbox issued the following statement to Business Insider:

“Mapbox has a zero tolerance policy against hate speech and any malicious edits to our maps. This morning, the label of ‘New York City’ on our maps was vandalised. Within an hour, our team deleted and removed that information. The malicious edit was made by a source that attempted several other hateful edits. Our security team has confirmed no additional attempts were successful.We build systems so this does not happen. Our maps are made from over 130 different sets of data, and we have a strong double validation monitoring system. Our preliminary root cause analysis shows that this act of hate speech was properly detected immediately and put into quarantine for human review.”

Mapbox added that the AI system immediately flagged the vandalism, but “human error” allowed the change to still go live.

“Security experts are working to determine the exact origin of this malicious hate speech,” the statement continues. “We apologise to customers and users who were exposed to this disgusting attack.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.