Google announced that it's working on a solution to stop users from reporting businesses closed when they aren't. Google admitted that the announcement came after a New York Times article reported several businesses that weren't closed were said to be permanently closed on Google Places.
One blogger, Mike Blumenthal, reported Google's Mountain View offices permanently closed Google Places with only the help of a single friend to show how easy it was to report, according to the Times.
The owner of a closed business, and customers who know better, can click on a button marked “not true,” which appears by all “reportedly closed” and “permanently closed” listings. In some instances, owners say, a business will “open” shortly thereafter. But other owners, like Ms. Cowan, say that the button doesn’t work, or that it takes a week to have any effect. Still others say that immediately after clicking the “not true” button, their business is immediately “closed” again.
Google said that will no longer be the case, saying that it was working on making "malicious" labeling less easy for spammers. From Google's Lat Long Blog:
About two weeks ago, news in the blogosphere made us aware that abuse -- such as "place closed" spam labels -- was occurring. And since then, we've been working on improvements to the system to prevent any malicious or incorrect labeling. These improvements will be implemented in the coming days.
So businesses who have been maliciously labeled as closed may have more recourse and it will be harder to label businesses as closed. Too bad it took a few months before the problem was addressed.