“The Early Bird Is For The Worms.” This might be especially true in the case of the florist, who renamed her competitors’ businesses on Google Maps (e.g. changing her competitor’s firm from “Forest Gump” to “Forest Gimp“) in my opinion this case only caused so much publicity because she is an pioneer in abusing this service and thus on the long run, will help Google to improve the quality and the reliability its service.
The Dominion Post reported that:
Anyone who uses Gmail or has a Google account can access the “edit” details. People can have multiple Gmail accounts. Police allege [the florist] accessed the sites, using various names, [...], and giving her location as Canada, UK and China. She allegedly altered addresses, phone numbers and website details of businesses, in an apparent bid to divert potential customers. [A competitor], said it was frightening how easy it was to alter details. It was a matter of simply clicking “edit” on the company’s details on Google Maps.
Manipulating Wikipedia entries to e.g. hide unfavourable passages of politicians etc. is a common and broadly accepted practise. So, when looking at the case at hand were a person has manipulated information in a business directory to divert traffic to her business I wonder if that person should be treated that differently. Sure, while the first leads (only) to the misinformation of the public and does not require any deception of identification systems, the second leads to economical harm on the side of the competitor and requires deception of identification and validation systems.
Still, I think the issue here lies deeper as:
a: there are no or little standards concerning the origin and the quality of the data and apparently in the case at hand the competitors had not used their chance (I might even say that there is a responsibility on the side of every business owner) to update his/her information ong Google Maps.
b: users still place people place an enormous amount of thrust into the data provided by search engines while not even caring where the data actually comes from. More about this trust issue here.
After reading the news on this case I was wondering if it were really that easy to edit business information. Well, actually no, but maybe Google has implemented different procedures for different countries or the validating options recently got changed after the incident I’ve just reported about.
However, in case you are a business owner you might be interested in how to change your business information, so just follow the instructions below:
a: Locate your business on Google Maps.
b: Next to the entry, click on the option “more info” and …
c: when seeing the detailed view of your business click on the option “Business Owner“.
d: After logging on (into Google’s Local Business Center) with your Google Account you will have the chance to edit your business details (location, contact details, upload pictures, etc). After having finished, validate the changes.