Google Maps used to advertise illegal services in Vietnam

By Hoang Giang   October 6, 2023 | 06:00 pm PT
Google Maps used to advertise illegal services in Vietnam
A search for "nha cai" (bookmaker) on Google Maps on a mobile phone in Hanoi reveals tags related to gambling. Photo by VnExpress/Tuan Hung
People are trying to advertise illegal services anonymously using Google Maps's tagging feature, the broadcast watchdog said.

Le Quang Tu Do, head of the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, confirmed this on Thursday, saying his agency has received reports about tags not being properly displayed on Google Maps.

Google Maps, one of the most popular map applications in the world, can help businesses promote their brands through geographical tags.

Users can search for such tags using keywords, and they are only removed at account owners’ request or if there are complaints from other users.

A search of the keyword "nha cai" (bookmaker) reveals several search results related to gambling in the local area.

These tags are on major streets, and their descriptions often contain links leading to online casino sites.

Other tags include for illegal goods such as "bong cuoi" (laughing gas balloons).

Some even have five-star ratings, along with comments that commend the goods’ quality. The tags also contain links leading to livestreams or sale sites to evade authorities.

Do said there are two ways to deal with the issue: If the tag locations are accurate, authorities can directly crack down on the violators, and if the tags have fake addresses or the account owners are anonymous, the Ministry of Information and Communications could ask Google to take them down.

Google has yet to comment on the issue.

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