On Saturday, presumed hackers renamed the Trump Tower location on Google Maps to ‘Dump Tower.’ The prank was visible on the mapping app for a couple of hours, and it went viral in social media.
The Google Maps hack comes as yet another blow to the company’s neutral reputation. Recent reports suggest Google’s search engine could show political bias in its results, leaning more towards a liberal point of view.
Trump Tower is the beacon of the President-elect’s business empire, located in the heart of New York City. It serves as the headquarters of his government transition team, and Trump himself lives on the top floor. Trump’s spokespeople made no statement about the incident.
‘Dump Tower’ prank might have been an inside job
A Google worker could have been involved in the renaming of Trump Tower on the Maps app. Some speculate company employees might have had something to do with the ‘Dump Tower’ prank since all changes have to be reviewed and approved first.
The Help section of Google Maps claims that users can report errors on everything from road names and directions to addresses and markers on the map. This reporting system is only available in some regions worldwide.
Now Trump Tower is labeled Dump Tower AND is in Russian. EPIC. #NotMyPresident pic.twitter.com/ddqm344p1X
— Girls Really Rule. (@girlsreallyrule) November 27, 2016
Error submissions then go to a log of reports, which Google employees review and approve for their quick change in the mapping platform. This process can take some time, so the company notifies users by email on their report status.
One way or another, the change from Trump Tower to ‘Dump Tower’ on Google Maps had to undergo the same process. If hackers bypassed the system, then it remains an incident. If Google employees were involved, then it may turn into a troublesome episode.
The ‘Dump Tower’ appeared on Uber Maps too
While people in social media were either having a great time laughing about the incident or being outraged about it, Google was hard at work doing damage control.
We have reached the bottom of the barrel.. @google maps and @Uber have re named #trumptower to #dumptower.. where is the democracy? ?????? pic.twitter.com/mTQ6QR5EuT
— Shlomo Nouriely (@Shlomo73) November 26, 2016
The tech giant promptly changed the name back to Trump Tower in late Saturday afternoon, but reports from social media users who could still see the fake name up on Google Maps later that night triggered more concrete actions.
“Some inappropriate names were surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologize for any offense this may have caused. Our teams immediately took action and have fixed the issue,” a Google spokeswoman told Associated Press.
Some reiterations of the ‘Dump Tower’ incident showed the New York landmark in Russian, and others even extended to Uber maps. The Trump administration team has made no official comments on the matter.