Google LBC: We’re Sorry, human error

Update 01/07/10: Elaine Filadelfo from Google’s Global Communications & Public Affairs office, has just forwarded me the following communication:

Hi Mike,

I know you’ve been covering the newsletter mix-up. Wanted to make sure you’ve got the latest statement/explanation:

As you know, we send a monthly newsletter to our Local Business Center users, featuring product news and a glimpse at statistics about the traffic Google properties drive to their listing (coming from the LBC dashboard, akin to Google Trends data for business owners). Shortly after sending the newsletter to a small portion of our users (less than 1%) last night, we discovered that some emails included incorrect business listing information. We promptly stopped sending any further emails and investigated the cause, which we found to be a human error while pulling together the newsletter content. We’d like to apologize to all the business owners affected and assure all our users that we’re working hard to ensure that nothing similar will happen again. Those affected should be receiving a corrected email shortly, if they haven’t already.

Also — we put an update in our Help Center in response to some questions as well:
Help Forum Response

We also posted a note on Twitter:

The follow-up emails have gone out already, so they should already be delivered or will arrive any time now.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.


James Ward passed along the Google apology for the LBC Stats error sent to his client, Caitlen Allen Acupuncture Clinic in Leeds:

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Google LBC: We're Sorry, human error by

6 thoughts on “Google LBC: We’re Sorry, human error”

  1. One of our businesses got a letter with wrong info and then an apology.

    Seriously that dashboard info is so inferior to analytics data. I wouldn’t have bothered paying attention to the dashboard problem if the issue hadn’t been publicised. More than 5 businesses didn’t get erroneous info and 1 did and then received a fast apology with updated data for the “correct” data.

  2. @Earl & Miriam

    Yes, it says more about the cloud and data security in general than it does about Google. Certainly they have a responsibilty to maintain data integrity and trust but any data, anywhere is vulnerable.

    It should be viewed by folks as a reason to question a willy nilly movement to the cloud.

    And yes, they did respond to me and to others throughout the day…Kudos to Google.

    But you need to realize that this error speaks to the core of their corporate plans/aspirations. It could call into question Google’s ability to protect data in general and requires a different level of response.

    They did not respond similarly or with any haste with other security issues that we have reported like the locksmith hijacking of LBC listings despite the problem being more serious.

  3. Mike:

    You are absolutely correct on the security issue. That is a MAJOR crisis and issue. Some of my businesses use salesforce, which is a robust and extensive contact management system and more based on the cloud. It handles IMMENSE amounts of secure information for major industries. I’m not aware of security breaches with that company. In our cases it would be devastating to have that information lost and made available; especially to competitors.

    Every so often I see egregious examples of severely private information lost on the web. Its always dangerous.

    Years ago I found analytics data on the web on a competitor within a different market. Geez, I accumulated everything. We ran similar businesses, though in different markets. Their information was fascinating to me as a way to compare things on the web. I learned a few things. After two months of accumulating the info I contacted the business operator about the information being available on the cloud. He was very grateful for my “heads up”. He was furious about the information being available on the web.

    Years later I used a pretty well known SEO business for a “secured information” report. Its information was publicly available on the web. It infuriated me. I was also aghast at their “shoulder shrugging/non active response”. I wouldn’t touch that business with a 10 foot pole. I paid for the service; it was supposed to be secured information. It was made public. Total breakdown in service. A competitor would have a field day with it.

    I recieved Google dashboard information for a “wrong business”. What about my information? Who did it go to? Is some other business using analytics for my business that should be 150% secure?

    How is it that salesforce can have a strong record for security while Google can have a major security breakdown? What gives?

    Its not something to shrug off. Google: Major major major fail. Who the hell wants to depend on your company to keep records secure?

    What about my adwords’ campaigns. Could someone else be accessing them? Again that it is critical competitive information. You are earning a lot for that information.

    Google should step up to the plate. Currently Google Maps has an incredible amount of flaws. Most of the problems are hidden from a larger world view as they pop up in Google Groups for Maps for business owners….and Google effectively keeps a lid on the problems from wider public view.

    Google Maps is also an effective presentation on the web. Its incredibly effective in having become an insert into as a maps insert via universal search. Meanwhile there are endless flaws.

    Instead of unleashing endless little bells and whistles Google should put its resources into fixing what doesn’t work. They need more than algo’s. They need customer service.

    Sooner or later one of the flaws is going to get widespread public awareness and Google is going to pay for it.

  4. “It could call into question Google’s ability to protect data in general and requires a different level of response.”

    You’re right, Mike. I hadn’t thought seriously enough about this. I am beginning to see what you’re driving at.

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