Google lets LGBTQ-plus sellers tag their business in Maps

Google adds a label to Maps that allows people to identify their business as LGBTQ-plus owned, join Yelp, which has a similar label† While Google Maps has had labels like LGBTQ-friendly and Transgender Safe Space for yearsthe company says the new corporate identity feature will help people who choose to support different businesses and could help queers find nearby communities.

As with Google’s other labels for businesses owned by Black, Latino, Veterans, and Women, the LGBTQ Plus label must be added by the verified business profile owner. (It’s not like other Maps metadata, which can be added by community members.) The labels can appear anywhere in the Google Maps interface, and you can also search for them by typing “LGBTQ companies,” for example.

As my former colleague Taylor Lyles noted in a 2020 story about Google rolling out a Black-owned label, there is no clear verification process for the attributes. Google’s help page for adding them doesn’t list any additional steps for business owners other than adding the labels. While this may raise concerns that people could be lying to game search results, it’s also difficult to suggest a suitable verification system for virtually any identity. Google’s user interface also makes it clear that it does not verify the information itself by saying that the label was added by the company.

The company also has some systems in place to address potential security issues. To be Business Identity Documentation says it has an abuse team to “quickly” deal with any harassment the system detects or that business owners report receiving because of their label. (For example, users leave negative reviews because they don’t like a business owned by a queer.) Actions like that won’t necessarily protect an owner or their business from physical harm — and given anti-LGBTQ violence and legislation emerging, according to Prism, that is unfortunately not excluded. But it’s still good to hear Google is thinking about it, especially given its less-than-perfect track record of protecting queer creators in other parts of its business.

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