Users of the messaging app Snapchat reported Thursday that the mapping feature of the service displayed New York City as “Jewtropolis.”
Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, told The Washington Post in a statement that the map relies on third-party data from OpenStreetMap, which had been vandalized. “This defacement is deeply offensive and entirely contrary to our values, and we want to apologize to any members of our community who saw it. We are working with our partner Mapbox to fix this as quickly as possible,” Snap said.
In a blog post Thursday morning, Mapbox said that the “malicious edit” was made by a source who had attempted several other “hateful edits.” While Mapbox’s automated systems flagged the derogatory listing, the company said human error caused the name change to be displayed. Mapbox said the offensive listing was removed within an hour. “We apologize to customers and users who were exposed to this disgusting attack,” the blog post said.
Mapbox maps pull information from more than 130 data sets, and the company’s computer systems flag tens of thousands of map changes every day for humans to review. The company said that security experts are investigating the source of the hate speech.
Twitter users reported that other services that rely on the online maps displayed the same name change for the New York City location, including the Weather Channel and StreetEasy.
Snapchat’s mapping vandalism comes a day after a U.S. Senate office building was temporarily renamed for the late Sen. John McCain on Google Maps. Google allows users to suggest edits to listed locations and key details about them. The crowdsourced edits are intended as corrections, but Google said users can also submit inaccurate edits. While congressional leaders have proposed a name change for the Senate office building to honor McCain, some Senate Republicans are resisting the effort.