Google Maps policy update bans former employees from leaving business reviews

Labels it a ‘conflict of interest’

Google Maps

Google has updated its policy for its Maps service to restrict business reviews left by former employees.

The policy change comes under the section of the Google Maps "User Contributed Content Policy," with the search engine giant now labelling reviews "about a current or former employment experience" as a "conflict of interest".

Before the policy modification, only current employees were blocked from leaving reviews. The new rules are quoted by Google on its Prohibited and Restricted Content policies page as follows:

"Maps user-contributed content is most valuable when it is honest and unbiased. The following practices are not allowed: Reviewing your own business; Posting negative content about a current or former employment experience; [and] Posting negative content about a competitor to manipulate their ratings.

The reason behind the new ban is likely a result of past disgruntled employees leaving negative reviews because of potential issues with their ex-bosses or colleagues, as these days, online reviews are a powerful thing. They can make or break small businesses.

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The new policy joins Google's already strict rules about business reviews being honest and unbiased, which state:

"If you own or work at a place, please don't review your own business or employer.

"Don't offer or accept money, products, or services to write reviews for a business or to write negative reviews about a competitor."

They also require that if you're a business owner, you cannot set up review stations or kiosks at your place of business just to ask for reviews written at your place of business.

Last year, Google introduced a new location-sharing feature to its Maps app,  which - using location data gathered via your phone's GPS - lets you provide your friends with real-time tracking information, allowing them to see your location, route and ETA.

While the announcement prompted privacy concerns from some, Google assured users that the feature doesn't mean the app will be permanently broadcasting their location. It will only be shared with contacts when you explicitly choose to and automatically ends when you reach your destination and you can even cancel it mid-journey if you feel like it.

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