In recent months, plenty of perfectly healthy businesses across the country have expired - sometimes for hours, other times for weeks - though only in the online realm cataloged and curated by Google. The reason is that it is surprisingly easy to report a business as closed in Google Places, the search giant’s version of the local Yellow Pages. On Google Places, a typical listing has the address of a business, a description provided by the owner and links to photos, reviews and Google Maps. It also has a section titled “Report a problem” and one of the problems to report is “this place is permanently closed.” If enough users click it, the business is labeled “reportedly closed” and later, pending a review by Google, “permanently closed.” Google was tight-lipped about its review methods and would not discuss them. Google’s rivals, like Bing and Yahoo, have versions of Places - called Bing Local and Yahoo Local - and these let users report a business as closed. But neither has anything close to Google’s traffic, which means they are the scene of far less mischief. Get the full story at The New York Times Read also "Google Addresses Google Maps “Closed” Spam" at WebProNews