An offensive map hack renaming New York City “Jewtropolis” affected social media network Snapchat and other applications, sparking outrage on social media.
On Thursday, netizens noticed the glaringly anti-Semitic error. Snapchat identified the incident as "vandalism."
Whatever mapping service that Snapchat, CitiBike, StreetEasy, (perhaps others) use — it seems — is showing New York City as "Jewtropolis" this morning. pic.twitter.com/nsVe8goLyo— Micah Grimes (@MicahGrimes) August 30, 2018
Us Jews seeing this: wow this is bad and a bit scary but also seriously you had JEW YORK right there and went with mediocre word play Jewtropolis instead? https://t.co/WcCkCG30Qx— Laura Silverman (@LJSilverman1) August 30, 2018
“Snap Map relies on third party mapping data which has unfortunately been subject to vandalism,” Snapchat said in a tweet Thursday. “We are working with our partner Mapbox to get this fixed immediately.”
Hey Dan! Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Snap Map relies on third party mapping data which has unfortunately been subject to vandalism. We are working with our partner Mapbox to get this fixed immediately.— Snapchat Support (@snapchatsupport) August 30, 2018
Mobile apps, including Snap Map, CitiBike, and The Weather Channel, use mapping startup Mapbox, which partially relies on user-generated data from community-supported OpenStreetMap to source its geographical information.
“Mapbox has a zero-tolerance policy against hate speech and any malicious edits to our maps,” Mapbox said in a statement Thursday. “This morning, the label of ‘New York City’ on our maps was vandalized. Within an hour, our team deleted and removed that information. The malicious edit was made by a source that attempted several other hateful edits. Our security team has confirmed no additional attempts were successful.”
Mapbox CEO and founder Eric Gundersen told TechCrunch the issue “is now 100 percent fixed and should have never happened.”
News organizations, such as BuzzFeed News, suggested the slur could have stemmed from a vandalism hack on OpenStreetMap occurring several weeks ago. However, Gundersen warned against making that assumption.
“The reality is that OpenStreetMap is just one part of what we use,” Gundersen said in an interview with TechCrunch. “Mapbox is made from about 130 different sources of data.”
This development comes amid a rise in anti-Semitic attacks online and off in the United States. Since President Donald Trump’s election to office, extremism against Jews, Muslims, and other minorities has dramatically increased. Yet, despite bigotry overtaking their platforms, tech companies appear slow to combat the hatred.
While some social networks, including Facebook, banned hatemonger and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, progress remains stagnant on fighting bigotry as racist groups flourish on Mark Zuckerberg's platform and white supremacists still have a voice on Twitter. Big Tech can say they are eradicating extremism, but their actions indicate they are giving hate the tools to thrive.
Banner/thumbnail photo credit: Reuters