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Anti-Semitic Vandals Deface Maps in Snapchat, Weather Channel Apps

Anti-semitic users were able to vandalize maps in apps like Snapchat, The Weather Channel, Citybike and StreetEasy Thursday morning, changing the name of New York to “Jewtropolis.” The defacement apparently occurred via Mapbox, a mapping provider used by these and other maps.

Snapchat acknowledged the issue in a tweet Thursday morning, saying that it was working with Mapbox on a fix.

The name change was first spotted at around 2a.m. PT, according to a report from The Verge. Mapbox said in a statement that it was able to remove it within an hour, but the change took apparently a bit longer to make its way into all of the affected apps.

Mapbox said that it was able to catch other hateful edits by the same user. The company’s filters were able to detect and flag every one of those attempts, but a human reviewer inadvertently okayed one of the edits.

“We apologize to customers and users who were exposed to this disgusting attack,” the company wrote in a blog post. “We will continue to investigate this act and make appropriate changes to further limit the potential for future human error.”

This isn’t the first time users have introduced incorrect and at times offensive data into widely-used maps. Mapbox, Google and others rely on user submissions to augment their own mapping data, and occasionally don’t catch incorrect submissions. Just this week, some Google Maps users were able to change the name of a Senate building after late Sen. John McCain — a change that hasn’t actually occurred.

Update: 9:50am: This post was updated with a statement from Mapbox.


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