Aug 30, 2018

Mapbox CEO vows changes after "disgusting act" of vandalism

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.

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