Eat The Press

google sex.JPG

Nick Denton continues to value-add at Valleywag, today posting a mischevous tidbit about how to subvert the intended purpose of Google Maps' new feature of auto-dialing a number you find online. It's not sex and its not really money, but it is highly amusing:

1. go to http://maps.google.com
2. search for, say, "sex addicts"
3. choose a listing
4. hit the call button
5. when prompted for a number, enter the hated one's digits
6. perfect evil snicker

As per Denton's advice, we tried it, reaching out to the fine folks at the Codependents of Sex Addicts (COSA) of Houston (713-685-7503), and laughing out loud to receive a call connecting us. Fantastic prank, pretty minimally invasive, not a big deal, but still: Seven hours later, you'd think Google would have done something about that. Unless, of course, they don't read Valleywag...unthinkable!

Though this is pretty harmless, as mentioned above, the privacy side issue here is worth noting (and admittedly it's not huge, unless you're getting incessant calls from Sex Addict hotlines). Still, we have noted in the past that Google is less stringent on privacy considerations than they might be, and others have so noted, too. In this case, it would have been very simple to have a registration requirement involving a confirmatory phone call first — easy as pie for someone who wanted to legitimately use the service, and effectively forestalling those who nefariously planned otherwise. Not the biggest deal, but considering the breadth and depth of Google's reach, a legitimate point.

Related: A Message From Speaker Nancy Pelosi [SNL]

Also Related: Hey, NBC! If you're going to remove the sketch from YouTube, you should at least make sure it's available on the SNL site. (I looked. It's not. At this point, I think I'd know.)

Update: The clip is available on NBC's YouTube page - my bad. Here you go. Will Forte, my oh my.

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