5. Google Maps Made The Hollywood Sign Disappear
The Hollywood Sign has long been a must-see attraction for tourists visiting Los Angeles. Perched in the Hollywood Hills, it looms over the city’s skyline, serving as a metaphor for how important this one place is to television, film, and popular culture in general.
It also does a pretty good job of looming over the people who live in the hills below it, drawing in hordes of tourists who jam their streets, litter, and trespass. More troublingly, these tourists can get in the way of fire trucks which need to access these highly combustible hills. In short, the proximity of the sign can be a bit of a nuisance — the kind of thing people who own knee-shakingly expensive homes don’t like dealing with.
“This place is incredible. Let’s close the fucking door.”
So the residents fought back in the most devious way possible. Most tourists were finding their way into the neighborhood by using Google Maps, and then kind of blundering their way through the streets to get as close to the sign as possible. So the local residents got Google to change the GPS co-ordinates of the sign, directing any tourists to a lookout at Griffith Observatory, miles away. Even the “walking” directions on Google Maps ignored the public hiking trails people could use to legally access the sign. You could be standing underneath the thing, and Google would still direct you on a two-hour death march to the distant observatory.
Any closer, and they would still smell the putrid stench of the poor.
On the one hand, this is slightly defensible. There were real public safety concerns which needed to be addressed, and neighborhoods around the world have implemented all sorts of measures to calm and control traffic. On the other hand, fuck these rich guys. This was clearly done mostly for selfish reasons. One of them has even threatened to sue a blogger for directing tourists along these same public roads and trails. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck them.
If you set your coordinates for Mt. Lee Drive and arrive between midnight and a minute past, they might not release the hounds.
More generally, dealing with public safety concerns is kind of the job of the government, isn’t it? Like, we’re having all these fucking elections for a reason, right? For public roads to be hidden thanks to the actions of private individuals and companies is a little bit spooky.
#4. Rogue Wikipedia Editors Are Holding Pages For Ransom
Although Wikipedia can nominally be edited by anyone, it has a core group of editors and writers who wield an unusual amount of authority over the site. This is slightly cliquish, but a core group like this does serve as an effective guard against anonymous edits from people with usernames such as *WeEdDoNg420*8====D~~~~.
“This botany article needs a section about how Hitler had some good points.”
But having a small group of people with such wide-ranging powers can lead to abuse. In an investigation code named “Orangemoody” (all of the good names were apparently taken), Wikipedia unearthed a scam wherein one of its editors would write an article about a company or band or whatever, and then hold it hostage until the target paid a small fee for its safe publication. The targets couldn’t fight back by writing or editing their own article, because the scammer could use their eldritch Wiki powers to block them. It was essentially a slightly boring combination of cyber-squatting and blackmail.
It does get worse, though. After paying the initial “fee,” these targets were presented a second offer: For the ass-clenchingly large sum of $30 a month, the scammer would then “protect” the article from vandals and deletion and things of that nature. That’s right; some underpants-wearing would-be gangster invented a fucking Wikipedia protection racket.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News/Getty Images
“Got a real nice brand here. Would be a real shame if a citation was needed for that.”