Thu. Sep 24th, 2020

Snapchat Map Provider Apologizes After Anti-Semitic Hack

A map data company is apologizing to customers and users who discovered this morning that the name of New York City had been changed to “Jewtropolis” on many popular apps.


Mapbox, which powers the maps on apps like Snapchat, CitiBike, The Weather Channel and The New York Times, was subject to an attack Thursday morning that resulted in the anti-Semitic name change. The company fixed the problem and issued a statement, calling the vandalization a “disgusting attack.”



A Mapbox spokeswoman said that security experts are looking into the origin of the attack.


Screenshots of the mislabeling began to appear on social media sites Thursday morning. In response to some tweets, Snapchat posted that its Snap Maps feature “relies on third-party mapping data which has unfortunately been subject to vandalism. We are working with our partner Mapbox to get this fixed immediately.”



Mapbox’s full statement is below.


Mapbox has a zero tolerance policy against hate speech and any malicious edits to our maps. This morning, the label of “New York City” on our maps was vandalized. Within an hour, our team deleted and removed that information. The malicious edit was made by a source that attempted several other hateful edits. Our security team has confirmed no additional attempts were successful.

We build systems so this does not happen. Our maps are made from over 130 different sets of data, and we have a strong double validation monitoring system. Our preliminary root cause analysis shows that this act of hate speech was properly detected immediately and put into quarantine for human review. 

Typically, our validation system prevents malicious edits from entering the system from any third party data source. Our AI system flags more than 70,000 map changes a day for human review. While our AI immediately flagged this, in the manual part of the review process a human error led to this incident.

Security experts are working to determine the exact origin of this malicious hate speech. We apologize to customers and users who were exposed to this disgusting attack.

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  AP
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