How Google is Battling Fakes

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2021 was Google’s busiest yet in the battle to cleanse the internet of fake business profiles.

The search giant has revealed that 2021 saw the removal of a jaw-dropping 7 million fake business profiles and the prevention of a further 12 million from being created...

Legitimate information is vital for a company in the business of providing information, a recent report about how Google keeps Maps information as reliable as possible reveals a reassuring side-benefit.

The eradication of fake business profiles.

7 million of them in-fact along with preventative measures to block even more from springing up and disabling over a million accounts held by what the company terms as ‘bad actors’ found guilty of committing online vandalism or fraud.

A Google Business Profile, along with a presence on Google Maps is something many can do, with relatively little in the way of information submitted. Verifying the legitimacy of each and every one is an essential, but increasingly challenging task.

When it comes to business, Maps is big business with the number of contributions rising inexorable year on year.

Google tells us that 20 million contributions are pouring in daily, many from businesses, keen to update opening hours, contact information, reviews etc...

Google Maps and Business Profiles: Keeping customers safe

A powerful blend of machine learning and human operators helps Google to identify abusive, fraudulent or policy-violating content in Maps and Business Profiles. Doing so has never been more important as 2021 saw users contribute 30% more content to businesses compared to 2020.

It is important to remember less than 1% was considered abusive or fraudulent. The overwhelming majority are well-meaning but even 1% of a massive number still equates to a lot of potential damage to bona-fide businesses.

Most of that damage is caught before ever going live in Maps and Search. Here are some of the key takeaways from Google’s report

  • Over 100 million abusive edits were blocked before going live
  • Seven million fake or misleading business profiles were removed
  • 630K fake business reports were acted on and dealt with
  • 12 million attempts to create fake Business Profiles were stopped in their tracks
  • 8 Million attempts to claim Business Profiles by people they didn’t belong to were stopped
  • 95 million reviews violated Google’s policies and were either blocked or removed
  • Over one million accounts were disabled due to activities such as online fraud or vandalism
  • Put measures in place to protect businesses after detecting attempted abuse or suspicious activity

Google also took down over a million reviews that were reported directly to them, blocked or removed entirely over 190 million photos and five million videos due to low quality or violation of their content policies.

In the past, certainly pre-pandemic many questioned Google’s commitment to ensuring Business Profile and Google Maps content was reliable.

As the report shows however, Google has been busy and will continue to be so; acting upon the reports it receives and taking action sooner rather than later.

If you notice fraudulent contributions to your own, or any other business profile, report it directly to Google either by filing a policy violation report or by using this tool to report copyright infringements and other legal issues.

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