Is this the first business to be headquartered 3 miles out from the coast? No. Their Google Places listing was simply hijacked. A Washington, DC-area restaurant is also citing a hacked Google maps listing as a major factor in its closure last year after their Google Places listing was modified to wrongly indicate they were closed on the weekend. In fact, they are suing Google as a result. Though their claims may not hold weight in court, Wired Magazine recently wrote, “the premise of the lawsuit—that the Serbian Crown was sabotaged online—isn’t as farfetched as it might seem.”
Local listings are in many ways a boon for small businesses, setting them up is practically free, and it’s an easy way to build visibility and credibility through consumer reviews.
However, since Google Maps is by nature a crowd-sourced project, it also leaves certain doors open for malicious behavior if you are not proactively monitoring your place listing.
“If you ignore your Google Maps listing, you’re inviting trouble. Ordinary users can submit community edits to your listing with details like operating hours.” – Wired Magazine
The lesson from this and other cases of online sabotage is to really pay attention to the major online listings of your business. Claim your ownership and keep them up to date. If not, you may be risking more than you realized.