Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Google Maps removes prank ratings from Epstein’s private island

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Google removed offensive tick lists and ratings from its map of Jeffrey Epstein’s private island The independent one the issue raised.

Little St James, the 75-acre US Virgin Islands retreat where Epstein and his allies allegedly molested numerous teenage girls, previously had two user-submitted locations on Google Maps called “Rape Center” and “Boy Thrussy Chaimber,” which is a sexual slang term for throat.

The reviews for the so-called Rape Center include a 4-star rating with the statement “Great service and entertainment. Recommend it!” and a one-star rating that said “The name is a bit sketchy explains the place well”.

On Thursday, Google removed these ratings and then removed both location entries The independent one drew the company’s attention to this.

However, it took a second request on Saturday to destroy reviews of Little St James itself, submitted three to four years ago, giving it an average rating of 4.7 out of five stars.

A Google spokeswoman said, “As soon as we became aware of these entries, our teams took immediate action to investigate violating content, remove content and take protective measures to prevent further abuse.

“We have clear policies that prohibit objectionable and fake content, and our automated systems and trained operators work around the clock to monitor Maps for suspicious behavior.

“We encourage our users to report misleading locations and inappropriate content, which helps us improve our automated detection systems and keep the information on maps authentic and reliable.”

Little St James has been the target of intense interest and speculation since Epstein’s death by apparent suicide in 2019. The billionaire bought it in 1998 through a letterbox company for 8 million known as “Little St. Jeff”.

Locals called it the “pedophile island”, however, and prosecutors say it is at the heart of an international abuse network that flew girls between the ages of 12 and 17 around the world in “sexual bondage” for the benefit of wealthy customers.

Court documents filed by the US Virgin Islands Attorney General allege Epstein used the island’s remoteness to defy government inspection and prevent victims from escaping by taking them to and from the airport in his private helicopters at the nearby one St. Thomas promoted.

The “Rape Center” on Google Maps was placed in place of a strange blue and white striped temple structure, the purpose of which was the subject of obscure conjecture, while the “Chaimber” was near Epstein’s main villa complex on the northern end of the island.

Google relies on users to populate its global map with rules that require it to be “based on real experience and information” and prohibit content that is “deliberately forged” or “unnecessary or false”.

But the search giant has long struggled to monitor fake content, from harmless jokes and childish puns to deliberate attempts to inflate companies’ reputations or defame their rivals. It uses artificial intelligence to look for new submissions that may be fake, with “thousands” of human workers reviewing ambiguous cases.

Last year, Google announced that it blocked or removed 55 million violating reviews, 160 million photos and 3.5 million videos, disabled more than 610,000 suspicious accounts, and blocked more than 3 million attempts to register fake business profiles.

In June, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority opened an investigation into fake reviews of Google and Amazon’s services, saying it was concerned that the two tech giants “haven’t done enough to protect customers and honest businesses”.

This story was updated at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 13th after Google removed a second set of reviews.

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