Users of a variety of popular apps and services, including Snapchat, awoke Thursday morning to find that New York City had been relabeled “Jewtropolis” on maps displayed in the apps.
People on Twitter quickly posted screen shots of the maps, calling them racist and anti-Semitic. Maps on Snapchat, Citi Bike, StreetEasy and even The New York Times all appeared to be affected.
All of those affected use embeddable maps from a third-party company called Mapbox. The company said in a statement that its New York City map had been “vandalized.”
“Mapbox has a zero-tolerance policy against hate speech and any malicious edits to our maps,” the company said, adding that the label was deleted within an hour. “The malicious edit was made by a source that attempted several other hateful edits. Our security team has confirmed no additional attempts were successful.”
Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, said that the third-party data it uses for its maps tool, Snap Map, had been “subject to vandalism.”
“This defacement is deeply offensive and entirely contrary to our values, and we want to apologize to any members of our community who saw it,” a Snap spokeswoman said in an email.
A spokeswoman for Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, said in an email that the company works with Mapbox to give users a map of its bike network. “Mapbox must ensure the public that disgusting slurs like these don’t appear again,” she said.
A spokeswoman for StreetEasy said the company was “deeply sorry” and that it was working to replace maps on its website.
Mapbox says more than 420 million people use its maps every month. Its clients also include Lonely Planet, CNN, Pinterest and Evernote.
Mapbox essentially supplies the base layer of the map. Companies like The New York Times then plot their own data on top of that base layer, to create maps like this detailed map of the 2016 election.
Mapbox controls the base layer and can change it independently. As of 9 a.m. Thursday, The New York Times maps were no longer mislabeled.
Tom Giratikanon contributed reporting.
Follow Mihir Zaveri on Twitter: @MihirZaveri.