The 11 Most Controversial Places On Google Maps

Google Maps

Google’s incredible market share puts it in a strange position of responsibility, as the world was reminded earlier this month when changed “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine”.

Nowhere can this impact on geopolitics be seen better than in Google Maps, a major product into which Mountain View keeps pumping money. While Google does its best to avoid controversy, for example showing multiple territorial claims in the Golan Heights, sometimes they screw up. Other times there is simply no good answer.

In light of reports of an upcoming redesign, we thought it was time to take a look at the most controversial places in Google Maps.

Images from Google Earth sparked protests in Bahrain in 2006 and again in 2011.

Bahrain's oppressed and overcrowded Shiite majority began using Google Maps and Google Earth to view palaces and other estates that make up 95% of the country.

The NYT's Tom Friedman later called these images in a list of 'not-so-obvious forces' that fed the mass revolt.

Source: Business Insider

When you searched for Google Maps in 2008, you just found a big white space.

There were accusations that Google may have removed the information in a bid to remain 'neutral' during the Georgia-Russia crisis -- some noted that Google's Russian-born co-founder Sergey Brin might even have something to do it.

Google responded by saying that they never had any map data for Georgia. At some point in the intervening years, the gap has been filled in.

Source: Foreign Policy

The Israel city of Kiryat Yam was tagged with the name of an Arab village that was there before it.

The information had been uploaded by a Palestinian user of Google Earth in December 2006.

In 2008, Kiryat Yam sued Google for libel due to the tag.

Source: Ogle Earth

Google previously refered to the controversial body of water bordering Iran and the Arab Gulf States as the 'Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf).' Iranians launched a petition in 2008 to drop the term 'Arabian Gulf' entirely.

Last year Google removed any name from the body of water, but many Iranians were still angry.

At the time of writing, the map is once again labelled 'Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf)' when accessed from the U.S.

Source: Petition Online

Google tries to appeal to both sides on a border dispute between China and India.

China and India have a number of different border disputes. In 2009, Google Maps fell into the centre of this after Indian bloggers noticed that the place names in the disputed area of Arunachal Pradesh had appeared in Chinese characters.

Google now tries to keep out of these disputes by offering different maps for different regions. Check out the location of Arunachal Pradesh on Google.In to the left above, and then where it appears to on to the right.

Source: Ogle Earth

Google Maps almost lead Nicaragua and Costa Rica to war in 2010.

A Nicaraguan commander told a newspaper that he had conducted a raid into Costa Rican territory after he looked at the (disputed) border on Google Maps.

Google's border was apparently off by 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles). After complaints from the Costa Rican government, Google updated their map.

Source: AFP

'(The map) is devoid of truth and reality, and professionally irresponsible, if not pretentious,' Svay Sitha, secretary of state of the Cambodia's Council of Ministers, wrote in a letter to Google.

The problem related to the sovereignty of an 11th century Preah Vihear temple which is a cause for nationalists in both Cambodia and Thailand.

Google has since updated the border.

Source: Reuters

Google Maps declared a disputed islet off North Africa first to Morocco and then to Spain.

The tiny, uninhabited islands, known as Perejil in Spain and Leila in Morocco, almost caused a war between the nations in 2002, but under a U.S.-baked deal their status was officially left 'under review'.

Then, in 2010, Google stepped in. The islands currently do not list a country.

Source: Associated Press

Officials in the German down of Emden were forced to complain after Google gave their harbor to Holland in 2011.

Google's map showed the border -- which technically goes down the centre of an estuary between Germany and the Netherlands -- hugging the coast of Germany and even going right into the harbor of the German town of Emden.

This meant any boats in the harbor there were technically in Dutch waters, according to Google.

A Google spokesperson blamed the problem on a long-running border dispute between Germany and the Netherlands. The border has since been updated.

Source: BBC

North Korea finally appeared in Google Maps in 2013.

Before, it had simply been a big white space. Now people use Google to 'review' forced labour camps in the country.

Source: Business Insider

Google was forced to remove favelas from maps of Rio, Brazil in 2013.

The city apparently wasn't too happy that tourists scoping out maps for the Olympics and the World Cup would see the city's slums before they saw its attractions.

Now even the biggest Favelas (such as Rocinha, which has over 60,000 residents) can only be seen if you zoom further in.

Source: Telegraph

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