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People Were Outraged After "New York City" Was Replaced With "Jewtropolis" On Snapchat's Snap Map

The name change appears to be the fault of Mapbox, the third-party mapping data startup that Snapchat uses to power its Snap Map.

Last updated on August 30, 2018, at 11:42 a.m. ET

Posted on August 30, 2018, at 9:08 a.m. ET

Outraged Snapchat users started tweeting screenshots on Thursday morning of their Snap Maps displaying "Jewtropolis" instead of "New York City."

Whatever mapping service that Snapchat, CitiBike, StreetEasy, (perhaps others) use — it seems — is showing New York City as "Jewtropolis" this morning. https://t.co/nsVe8goLyo

Snapchat's support team on Twitter responded to users, writing that the Snap Map feature relies on third-party mapping data, which means they weren't able to immediately fix it.

@dxn_14 Hey Dan! Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Snap Map relies on third party mapping data which has unfortunately been subject to vandalism. We are working with our partner Mapbox to get this fixed immediately.

Snapchat partnered with mapping data startup Mapbox in June 2017. Mapbox, in turn, pulls geographical data from a service called OpenStreetMap.

"Snap Map, similar to other apps, relies on third party mapping data from OpenStreetMap, which unfortunately has been vandalized," a spokesperson for Snapchat's partner company, Snap, told BuzzFeed News. "This defacement is deeply offensive and entirely contrary to our values, and we want to apologize to any members of our community who saw it. We are working with our partner Mapbox to fix this as quickly as possible."

Snapchat isn't Mapbox's only client, though. According to its website, Mapbox's maps are currently being used by over 420 million people around the world — which meant that on Thursday morning Citibike users also saw the same "Jewtropolis" map.

@CitiBikeNYC why is the E Village called “Jewtropolis” on your app

As did users of Jump Bikes and StreetEasy.

@jumpbikes when I enlarge the NYC map on your app, New York City becomes Jewtropolis. I hope that is a hack!

Along with real estate website Zillow.

Couldn't find a way to report directly to @streeteasy or @zillow or @openstreetmap so here's a screen shot of a condo located in "Jewtropolis". Assuming they've been hacked. Might want to get on that and fix it. #Antisemitic @ADL_National https://t.co/Z36GdrzLo9

According to Mapbox's help pages, it uses OpenStreetMap data in its maps. OpenStreetMap, as of Thursday morning, was not currently showing "Jewtropolis," however.

OpenStreetMap is an open-source project led by a community of mappers who contribute and maintain global map data. According to its website, Mapbox's streets, buildings, areas, water, and land data are based on OpenStreetMap's records.
OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap is an open-source project led by a community of mappers who contribute and maintain global map data. According to its website, Mapbox's streets, buildings, areas, water, and land data are based on OpenStreetMap's records.

But Mapbox's demo map was showing the name.

Mapbox

One possible explanation for what happened is that Mapbox pulled vandalized OpenStreetMap data into its app, which was then loaded into hundreds of other apps.

There were complaints of New York City's OpenStreetMap listing being changed to "Jewtropolis" several weeks ago. According to one of OpenStreetMap's sysadmin team, the "Jewtropolis" edit was corrected within hours.
phabricator.wikimedia.org

There were complaints of New York City's OpenStreetMap listing being changed to "Jewtropolis" several weeks ago. According to one of OpenStreetMap's sysadmin team, the "Jewtropolis" edit was corrected within hours.

A user named MedwedianPresident was accused of changing New York City to "Jewtropolis" in earlier this month. According to their user history, they appear to have a habit of doing this sort of thing.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Mapbox for comment.

Mapbox released a statement about the incident, saying the listing for New York City has been fixed.

"Mapbox has a zero-tolerance policy against hate speech and any malicious edits to our maps," the statement reads. "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."

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