After labels on Google Maps for the West Bank and Gaza disappeared, Google has been forced to come out and deny that the labels had been deliberately deleted and claimed that the disappearance had been caused by a bug.
Critics had claimed that Google had “airbrushed” out Palestine however the tech Giant explain to WIRED website that the labels were “never there in the first place and that it was working on getting the labels back.”
The controversy was sparked by the fact that Google Maps fails to recognise Palestine as a separate country from Israel despite being recognised as a state by the United Nations.
On Google Maps the border is denoted by a dotted line rather than the solid line that usually shows separate countries.
Google was forced into the clarification after an online petition had claimed that the omission was “a grievous insult to the people of Palestine.”
The petition went on: “whether intentionally or otherwise, Google is making itself complicit in the Israeli government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”
All of the data on Google maps in collected by a third party including place names and borders so they are somewhat reliant on the information that is provided by the said local third party.
This is particularly relevant went in comes to where contested territories are concerned.
In past Google has always been sympathetic to Palestine’s claim of statehood and in 2013 they changed the tagline of the homepage on the Palestinian version from “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine”.
The latest controversy demonstrates how much power tech companies such as Google have when it comes to shaping our view of the world.