Google Maps is showing Edward Snowden as residing in the White House, within Edwards Snow Den, instead of Russia. Apparently, the location, that is verified by Google and classified as a snowboard shop, has five reviews that declare it as a “great source of classified information” and somewhere to get “top notch info on the cheap.”
The location, that is verified and classified by Google as a snowboard shop, has five reviews that declare it as a “great source of classified information” and somewhere to get “top notch info on the cheap.”
It is not hard to add something to Google Maps, it is much harder to add it in a way that it is verified to a particular address. According to Google, Edwards Snow Den is a verified place.
However, it turned out to be the result of someone cleverly changing the location of a business listing after it had gone live on Google Maps.
According to Google, the listing was removed. However, the listing is still viewable, even though one can be sure that Google is working hard to remove Snowden from the White House.
There is another odd listing, which appears within the West Wing of the White House, that is for “cCross law firm,” with a link that leads to an animated, musical page for what might be a legal firm in Japan.
Besides, the US Department of the Treasury is showing that it is home to Freddy frazbear’s pizza, a typoed version of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, the fictional setting of indie horror game Five Nights at Freddy’s.
However, Edward Snowden has been staying in Russia since fleeing the U.S. in 2013.
Apparently, according to Search Engine Land, the guy who managed to create fake listings for the US Secret Service and the FBI in Google Maps last year, actually did that again with the Snowden / White house listing. Bryan Seely did that to demonstrate a weakness with Google Maps.
Seely created a business in Google Maps at an address where he could receive mail and with a phone number he could receive calls to. Google sent a verification postcard to his address. When the business was verified, he deleted it from his account. Then he used another Google account to claim the new orphaned business. He gained control over it by doing verification via phone. When that happened, he was free to move the business to anywhere he wanted, change the name and alter other details.
When the US Secret Service and the FBI listings came to light, Google quickly removed them and said that it would be much harder to do such things in the future. However, according to Seely, Google blocked the telephone verification option that was involved for about six weeks, then allowed it to resume. He said that he was surprised that a year after all this happened, he was still able to do the same thing.
“They didn’t take steps. They didn’t take action. What’s to stop me from doing this to a congressman?” Seely said.
On the whole, Seely likes Google: “Google as a company as a whole, with their top level leadership, is a great company.” However, he added: “It’s disheartening. It’s like finding out your favorite company is a piece of sh**.”