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How we kept information on Maps reliable in 2021

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In a world that’s constantly changing, it’s important for Google Maps to give you the freshest, most up-to-date information possible — so you can know whether the restaurant down the street from you reopened or if your neighborhood grocery store has curbside pickup. One way we do this is through contributed content.

Every day we receive around 20 million contributions from people using Maps. Those contributions include everything from updated business hours and phone numbers to photos and reviews. As with any platform that accepts contributed content, we have to stay vigilant in our efforts to fight abuse and make sure this information is accurate. Thanks to a combination of machine learning and human operators, we continue to decrease the amount of content seen on Maps that is fraudulent or abusive – in fact, it’s less than one percent of all the content that is viewed on Maps. Today, we’re sharing more about how we kept irrelevant and offensive information off of Google Maps throughout 2021.

Keeping business information reliable

The world shifted throughout 2021 with the rollout of vaccines, updates to mask mandates, and new COVID variants. Our community of Maps users showed up in full force to update Google Maps with fresh information about their communities. In fact, throughout 2021, their contributions helped us add updated business information, such as a place’s hours of operation or its health and safety protocols, for 30% more businesses than in 2020.

But sometimes fraudsters try to update business information on Google Business Profiles with abusive edits. In 2021, we blocked more than 100 million of these edits from going live thanks to our continued advancements in machine learning models that improved our ability to catch bot activity and unearth suspicious activity patterns. Here’s a deeper look at the information we removed from Maps:

  • Thanks to advancements in our technology, we identified and removed more than 7 million fake Business Profiles — more than 630,000 of which were reported directly to us.
  • We stopped more than 12 million attempts from bad actors to create fake Business Profiles and nearly 8 million attempts from bad actors to claim Business Profiles that didn’t belong to them.
  • Thanks to continued improvements in our machine learning, our technologies and teams disabled more than 1 million user accounts due to policy-violating activity, such as online vandalism or fraud.

Verifying photos, videos and reviews on Business Profiles

As the world reopened throughout 2021, people relied on Google Maps reviews to get the information they needed about places before visiting them — like what health and safety protocols were enforced or if there was outdoor dining and open spaces.

However, we also saw individuals and groups attempt to use fake reviews as a tactic to hurt local businesses — oftentimes spurred by public attention on differences in opinions. In 2021, to prevent violative content from appearing on Google Business Profiles, we put protections on over 100,000 businesses after detecting suspicious activity and abuse attempts. Here’s what else we did in 2021 in our efforts to keep the content in Google Maps reliable:

  • We blocked or removed more than 95 million policy-violating reviews, over 60,000 of which were taken down due to COVID-related instances.
  • We took down more than 1 million reviews that were reported directly to us.
  • As a result of continued advancements in our machine learning, our technologies and teams blocked or removed more than 190 million photos and 5 million videos that were blurry, low quality, or violated our content policies.

Local knowledge that our global community contributes is a huge part of what makes Google Maps more than a navigation tool. We’ll continue to invest in keeping this information fresh and reliable so you can discover information about the world around you.

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