Snapchat users were a little taken aback by a recent hacking event that altered the map of New York City in the platform.
According to users who called out the platform and its parent company on Twitter, someone had changed “Manhattan” to “Jewtropolis.” The company was quick to apologize for the issue, but it was actually a third-party source who owns the map feature.
Mapbox, the source of the map that feeds the tool to several apps including Snapchat, issued a statement: “Mapbox has a zero-tolerance policy against hate speech and any malicious edits to our maps. This morning, the label of “New York City” on our maps was vandalized. Within an hour, our team deleted and removed that information. The malicious edit was made by a source that attempted several other hateful edits. Our security team has confirmed no additional attempts were successful.”
However, Mapbox’s statement went on to say that more than 70,000 user-suggested edits are reviewed by its AI system every day, and that this one, was in fact, flagged by the computer. The manual review of the flagging didn’t prevent the change for some reason.
Not just a tech problem
While many people may have gotten the impression that racism, anti-Semitism, and other nationalistic ideas have fallen away in more modern times, recent political events have shown that not to be the case. Apart from things like allowing an openly anti-Jew pastor to serve as Donald Trump’s “spiritual advisor” and the White House’s refusal to condemn people and events such as the Charlottesville rally, racism, sexism, and a general disdain for diversity in the tech industry have been widespread, highly recognized problems for years.
According to many sources (seriously, just Google “racism in tech” to find more than 45 million citations), this is one of the many industries in which attitudes towards diversity and acceptance have not caught up with the viewpoints held by much of the public.
Unfortunately, with the broad, misguided sentiment that the technology sector and Silicon Valley are places of acceptance, world-changing innovation, and a generally futuristic “Star Trek-esque” attitude towards all people, events such as this one almost hurt more than everyday institutionalized racism.