This is why Google Maps has fake addresses, and it's not what you think

This is why Google Maps has fake addresses, and it's not what you think

Google Maps is one of the most popular mapping services in the world. Although the application seems reliable, there are often roads that simply do not exist in reality – and that's on purpose.

Countless streets are listed on Google Maps - so a few minor errors wouldn't be surprising in principle. However, Google has deliberately built in some errors into the mapping service (via Business Insider), known as "trap streets": These are fictitious, self-named streets and places, which often have an obviously fictional name and are usually included on maps for extended periods of time.

The insertion of such fake streets and places has a seemingly bizarre but ultimately logical reason: The company uses the fictitious addresses as a form of copy protection or watermark. If an external mapping service were to copy parts of Google Maps and mistakenly include the fake streets - Google could easily prove that the service had copied unlawfully.

For those who are worried about being led by Google Maps onto non-existent roads on their next trip to Italy, they can be reassured: The fake streets are usually just minor dirt roads and dead ends. It would be more difficult if Google were to direct you to a place that doesn't exist at all: There are also rumors that Google has sometimes added ghost towns to the mapping service.

The practice of including intentionally incorrect information is not exclusive to Google Maps. Other companies and platforms also use similar tactics to provide copy protection, watermarking and preventing data scraping. Even with larger databases of people, non-existent names / persons are often inserted to prevent data theft. Measures like these for copy protection are of high importance for Google: After all, the company spares no expense to get the necessary HD images, for example, for Google Street View. While the specifics may vary depending on the platform and the nature of the data involved, the use of fake or intentionally incorrect information as a form of protection or control is a common practice.

Excluding intentional false information, Google Maps is actually a pretty accurate mapping service, which accurately depicts the location of roads, buildings, and landscapes. However, Google Maps is not free of errors; attentive users often discover the odd mistake, which sometimes leads to curious consequences. For example, a small Norwegian village was flooded by tourists because Google Maps incorrectly indicated the location of a well-known tourist attraction. Otherwise, you can rely on Google Maps to get you where you need to go safely.