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Google removed 3 million fake business listings from Maps in 2018

A recent investigation by The Wall Street Journal claims that there are potentially millions of fake business listings being shown on Google Maps. Since this report, Google has responded by acknowledging the problem and detailing steps on how they are tackling these fake business listings.

The WSJ had claimed that around 11 million fake businesses were littering Google Maps, while in a self-funded study Google claimed that only 0.5 percent of local business listings are potentially fake. According to the WSJ, they found that 13 of the top 20 Google search results for plumbers in NYC were fake, with false addresses. Only two of these top 20 were found to have been adhering to Google My Business listing guidelines.

Google took to their Maps blog to refute these claims, with Google Maps product director Ethan Russell stating that of more than 200 million listings added to Google Maps, only a “small percentage” were indeed fake.

In the post, it was confirmed that last year Google took down more than 3 million fake business profiles. What is more interesting is that over 90% of these fake business listings were removed from Google Maps and Search before users were even able to see them.

  • We took down more than 3 million fake business profiles––and more than 90 percent of those business profiles were removed before a user could even see the profile.
  • Our internal systems were responsible for more than 85 percent of these removals.
  • More than 250,000 of the fake business profiles we removed were reported to us by users.
  • We disabled more than 150,000 user accounts that were found to be abusive – a 50 percent increase from 2017.

85% of these listings were automatically detected by Google’s internal systems, the remaining 5% were reported by users and accounted for 250,000 fake businesses. Google also confirmed that they had disabled 150,000 user accounts that were found to be abusive, this accounted for a 50% increase from 2017 to 2018.

Google has confirmed that it is working on new methods for the public to report suspicious business profiles and directed those that spot potentially fraudulent activity to its Business Redressal Complaint Form.

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Avatar for Damien Wilde Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter @iamdamienwilde. Email

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