Mapbox, an open source mapping platform used by Snapchat and other apps, issued an apology on Thursday after someone managed to briefly change its map location for New York City to “Jewtropolis.”
The derogatory map label was spotted by Snapchat users Thursday morning and screen shots quickly hit Twitter. Many of the tweets blasted Snapchat, calling the location change racist and anti-Semitic, but the company quickly responded to the angry tweets explaining it uses a third-party business for its mapping.
Maps used by Citi Bike, StreetEasy and The New York Times were also affected, according to published reports.
Mapbox issued a lengthy statement on Thursday calling the edit to its maps “malicious hate speech,” adding it has a zero-tolerance policy against such “vandalism.”
Snap Map, similar to other apps, relies on third party mapping data from OpenStreetMap, which unfortunately has been vandalized. We are working with our partner Mapbox to fix this as quickly as possible.— Snapchat Support (@snapchatsupport) August 30, 2018
The act of hate speech that has affected our map users has been resolved. We will not accept hatred on our platform. We removed the attack within an hour of discovery and this is cleared on all maps at this time. Full statement here: https://t.co/V8KWZTSeT9 pic.twitter.com/3tyOmyWAlv— Mapbox (@Mapbox) August 30, 2018
“Security experts are working to determine the exact origin of this malicious hate speech,” Mapbox said in the statement. “We apologize to customers and users who were exposed to this disgusting attack.”
Whoever changed the map also tried to make other hateful edits, according to Mapbox, but only the New York City location managed to make it through to Snapchat and other apps.
The offensive mapping label was flagged immediately by the company’s validation system but human error allowed the edit to be seen by app users. It was removed within an hour after it appeared, Mapbox said.
“We will continue to investigate this act and make appropriate changes to further limit the potential for future human error,” the company vowed in its statement.