To illustrate problems and vulnerabilities with local business listings security and accuracy, Mike Blumenthal “hijacked” Microsoft’s Google Maps listing last week:
I wondered if that was in fact the case so I decided to see if some of the major Fortune 500 companies had in fact claimed their records and avoided the possibility of hijackings. Microsoft came to mind first. I grabbed one of their listings in Redmond and was able to change the location, url and their business name. Microsoft even managed to gather a spammy review in its short life as an escort service :). Out of a sense of fair play, I changed it back although Google has not yet done so. I wasn’t sure that that Microsoft or Google would appreciate my sense of humor.
Here’s more coverage and additional discussion on Search Engine Land.
Once a listing is claimed it can no longer be hijacked or “punk’d,” as it were. Not to make light of it, most business listings aren’t going to get stolen by some unscrupulous competitor. Most people are honest, etc.
However, Mike makes reference to a florist whose listing was hijacked and says he lost 30% of his business during the period in question. So there are potential, real-world consequences to failing to claim and protect your listings.
Update: Google politely responds to Mike.