MapSpammers Coming to Mashups?

John Musser, December 12th, 2007

Earlier this year in Beware Mashup Spam we saw how spammers were working on gaming Google Maps via mass uploads and creating questionable or false listings. Well, Search Engine Land’s Mike Blumenthal has just followed-up on his initial report with more in yesterday’s MapSpammers Getting More Sophisticated.

In a nutshell, Mike reports on get rich quick schemes in which the spammer uses post office boxes in any city to “legitimize” themselves and get ranking in Google Maps. The overall scheme is to: “Rent a mailing address with forwarding in every major market near the centroid of the city (UPS is one of many that offer this service); Obtain a domain name for each city with a relevant “location + service” domain; Create a website that returns an optimized “location + service” page for the domain; Enter the businesses in the Google Local Business Center (if you are doing the top 50 metro markets, not such a big deal) note: skip this and the next step if using Yahoo Local; Enter the PIN numbers when they are forwarded to you; Get rich quick.”

While not a mashup technique specifically, it’s not a stretch to see how this type of technique can extend to mashups, or even the data from these techniques showing-up in local-focused map or shopping mashups. And in a quick test using one of the best and highest rated map mashups on this site, Alkemis Local NYC, you can see that searching on “cash advance loans” brings up the same business on Fulton Street that Mike highlights in his report.

This is probably just the beginning of how the web as platform gets gamed.

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4 Responses to “MapSpammers Coming to Mashups?”

December 12th, 2007
at 3:29 pm
Comment by: BlinkGeo » It’s Crantastic Link Karma - 12-12-2007

[...] Ever heard of ‘MapSpamming?’  It’s worth checking out this article on Search Engine Land that gives some creepy insight into a sophisticated strategy for spamming geospatial media.  [via ProgrammableWeb] [...]

December 12th, 2007
at 10:51 pm
Comment by: Mike Blumenthal

Hi John-

The rule of thumb probably is “if there is profit they will come”.

Mike B

December 13th, 2007
at 12:08 am
Comment by: John Musser

Hey Mike, good story. Agreed, it’s only a matter of time…

March 14th, 2008
at 1:21 am
Comment by: Yahoo Search and the Semantic Web

[...] to web site meta tags, every opportunity to game the system will get used. Look no further than how Map Mashup Spam is done to see how mashups and APIs are no [...]

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John Musser
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Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.