Google Maps Blocked Reviews in Israel & Gaza

How long the review ban will last has come up a number of times in the forums, with no official Google confirmation of the ban or when it might end.

Google Maps Blocked Reviews  in Israel & Gaza

Shortly after war broke out in Israel and Gaza in early October, Google apparently prevented any reviews from being posted for businesses in either place. When first reported in Israel Hayom in late November, Google said (in Hebrew): "As we have done in the past in conflict situations, we are activating additional protections to monitor and prevent content that violates our policies in the maps application, including temporarily blocking new reviews, photos and videos in Israel and Gaza."

Stopped Four Months Ago

If you look at profiles from the area, even extremely heavily reviewed ones, you will notice that no reviews have been published in the last four months.

No reviews have been added for the past four months.

No Official Answer

The question of why reviews are paused and how long the review ban will last has arisen a number of times in both the Google Business Profile forum and the Local Guides forum, with no official Google confirmation of the ban or when it might end. Google is apparently providing notification to (some?) business owners that a "pause" is in place, via the Business dashboard, but not the rationale – so owners continue to come into the forum.

It makes sense that Google has imposed a ban during the current conflict. In February, 2022 Google touted their ability to "moderate reviews with the help of machine learning" at scale. They stated at the time: "When there’s an upcoming event with a significant following — such as an election — we implement elevated protections to the places associated with the event and other nearby businesses that people might look for on Maps."

Blocked for Controversy

Shortly after making that statement, Google blocked reviews of all business in Ukraine and Russia during the early days of that conflict. It also blocked reviews for pregnancy care facilities immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the US Supreme Court in July 2022.

What isn't totally clear is why there has been no official confirmation of the ban in either the GBP or the Local Guide Forums. The Israeli-Hamas conflict is particularly charged and perhaps Google thinks that discretion is the best course in this context. They may want to be perceived as apolitical, despite all of the power they actually hold and often wield. Regardless, businesses and Local Guides deserve a straight answer.