We hate to be the bearer of more “fake” news, so to speak. After talking about deepfakes a couple weeks ago, we read the news about fake business accounts on Google Maps, as uncovered by the Wall Street Journal. The report mentioned that there could be as many as 11 million fake listings on Google maps.
It can be overwhelming to read these reports about people using underhanded methods to create fake business listings, subverting business away from real listings and tricking consumers. However, there are measures being taken to mitigate the problem. And in the meantime, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your business.
What’s Being Done About It
Although this particular story has caught fire, Google has been aware of this problem. In 2017, they addressed the issue. Since then, they have taken down 3 million fake listings, over 90% before users could see them. In addition to trying to catch listings before they ensnare anyone, Google is also beefing up its reporting systems, trying to make it easier for users to report fake or scamming listings.
Also, the Justice Department is reportedly preparing to conduct an anti-trust investigation into Google, which could include these recent findings.
What You Can Do
First and foremost, as a consumer, protect yourself by doing some research. The most common fake listings are associated with businesses that you call in an emergency – including plumbers, electricians, repair shops and more. Look for websites or listings on other platforms, such as Facebook. Read reviews. Take note of the address listed and check to see if there’s actually a business there under that name. Taking some time to look deeper can help you discern the fake listings from the real ones.
As Google cracks down on these fake listings, we highly recommend getting your business listing up and going. The more thorough and accurate your listing is, the more it can stand out as legitimate. Learn more about how to set up your Google listing.
Keeping an Eye Out
Here at McNary Marketing, this is the kind of thing we watch out for. When we see these reports come in, we dig in to see how it might impact our clients and how we can help, on our end.
This is the kind of thing we keep an eye on. These trends. And help you stay on top of them. Learn more about what else we do to support our clients through these and other internet waves.