Google Maps recently turned 15 and marked their birthday by releasing new features for the popular mobile app.
Thanks to Google’s thriving community of Local Guides, the company is able to turn the Googe Maps service into a “helpful tool for everyday decision making”.
How you can create a more helpful map
In order to help create a more helpful map, we need to understand the Local Guides service. Let’s dive a bit deeper.
Who are Local Guides?
Local Guides is a free service from Google Maps that lets anyone contribute photos, reviews and other information on the app. The more you contribute, the higher you’ll move up the ranks.
People who contribute regularly are known as Local Guides. They are passionate about sharing their experiences by contributing reviews, photos, lists and more.
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And I know, because I’m one of them! (Admittedly, I’m only a level six, which is higher than your average Google Maps users; but lower than most hardcore Local Guides.)
Google recently announced that they would be introducing advanced features to the Local Guides framework. Google explains:
“When we look at the places around us, it’s clear that not all the information we see is online. Store hours get updated, new businesses open and menus rotate. To ensure that our map reflects the real world, we enable anyone with a Google account to contribute their local knowledge to approximately 200 million points of interest in Google Maps”.
Why users are encouraged to submit content
According to the data, users submit more than 20 million contributions to Google Maps every day. This includes everything from reviews and ratings to photos, answers to other users’ questions, address updates and more.
When Local Guides contribute by sharing their photos, ratings, opinions and useful tips, it enables people from all around the globe to make better decisions about where to eat and shop.
You probably know how to use the Explore tab to find the perfect restaurant. However, diving deeper into the user-created content, you’ll find photos of the dishes and reviews left by other diners.
Want to know if a restaurant offers exceptional service, or free Wi-Fi? Simply scroll through the reviews and see what other patrons are saying about the establishment in question.
Ensuring the content you see is reliable
Like any platform that welcomes user-generated content, Google strives to remain vigilant against inappropriate content. Thankfully, Google aims to removes it before it’s even spotted out in the wild.
Google explains that they are able to “crack down on the bad actors” who violate their terms of service by using a “combination of people and technology to tackle unwelcome content”.
For example, we use automated detection systems, including machine learning models, that scan the millions of contributions we receive each day to detect and remove policy-violating content. In the case of fake reviews, our systems check every single review before it gets published to Google Maps; looking for signs of fake content. Our machine learning models watch out for specific words and phrases, and examine patterns in the types of content an account has contributed in the past. It can detect suspicious review patterns.
The team sorts through the 20 million contributions they receive each day – roughly more than seven billion contributions a year. In 2019 alone, they:
- Removed more than 75 million policy-violating reviews and four million fake business profiles thanks to refinements in thei machine learning models and automated detection systems
- Took down more than 580 000 reviews and 258 000 business profiles that were reported
- Reviewed and removed more than 10 million photos and three million videos that violated their content policies
- Disabled more than 475 000 user accounts as they improve their machine learning detection capabilities and develop expanded policies.