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Mapbox is used to power a number of sites and apps, including Snap Maps, seen here. Photo: Snapchat

Mapbox CEO Eric Gundersen told Axios the company will implement more protections for its data after a "disgusting act" of vandalism led its maps to briefly label New York City as "Jewtropolis."

Why it matters: Mapbox, a highly-touted startup, powers maps for Snapchat, Facebook, Tinder and other major apps.

"This is a disgusting act," Gundersen said in a telephone interview.

The vandalism was the result of a single OpenStreetMaps user who made dozens of changes designed to insert anti-Semitic language onto maps in New York, New Zealand and elsewhere, Gundersen told Axios.

However, Gundersen took full responsibility for the incident. "This was a Mapbox issue," he said. "None of our customers did anything funny. This is 100 percent our issue."

While Mapbox' AI system caught all the attempts and quarantined them, a human override allowed one to go live, affecting all of Mapbox's partners, including Snapchat.

"We’ve built out all these systems to make sure the hatred and increasing bile being created on the internet doesn’t impact us, and it did today," he said.

What's next: Gundersen said Mapbox will look to add either a second layer of human interaction to override the AI quarantine, a final machine learning check on human-approved changes, or both.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
11 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.