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’ tagging feature, the broadcast watchdog said.
Le Quang Tu Do, head of the Broadcasting and Electronic Information Authority, confirmed this on Thursday, saying his agency had received reports of beacons not displaying correctly on Google Maps.
Google Maps, one of the most popular map apps in the world, can help businesses promote their brands with geotags.
Users can search for these tags using keywords, and they are only removed at the request of account owners or complaints from other users.
A search for the keyword “nha cai” (bookmaker) reveals several search results related to gambling in the region.
These beacons are found on high streets and their descriptions often contain links to online casino sites.
Other labels include illegal products such as “bong cuoi” (laughing gas balloons).
Some even have five-star ratings, as well as reviews praising the quality of the products. The tags also contain links leading to livestreams or sales sites to escape the authorities.
Do said there are two ways to solve the problem: if the locations of the tags are accurate, authorities can directly crack down on violators, and if the tags have fake addresses or the account owners are anonymous, the ministry of Information and Communications could ask Google to remove them.
Google has not yet commented on the issue.