This week, users complained over noticing an issue with Google Maps involving typing in a racial insult and being directed to the White House. Google has now issued an apology on its official Maps blog, saying that it is “deeply upset” by the issue and is working hard to fix it.
Google apologises for offence
Google says the hoo-hah this week involved the way it ranks results in response to a search query. For Google Maps, it uses content about businesses and other public places from the Internet. The issue was that due to that process of making use of web data and automatically returning a location. Google says that the offensive terms that triggered the White House had been mentioned by users in online discussions of the specific location and so automatically used by Google Maps.
At Google, we work hard to bring people the information they are looking for, including information about the physical world through Google Maps. Our ranking systems are designed to return results that match a person’s query. For Maps, this means using content about businesses and other public places from across the web. But this week, we heard about a failure in our system—loud and clear. Certain offensive search terms were triggering unexpected maps results, typically because people had used the offensive term in online discussions of the place. This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren’t looking for.
Google says that it’s now working to fix the issue, even saying that it’s updating the ranking system that it uses to address searches of a controversial nature, and that the changes should roll out everywhere over time.
This is the second time that Google Maps has come under fire. Recently, the company also got into trouble when an image of an Android robot peeing on an Apple logo appeared in maps in an area of Pakistan.
SOURCE: Google Maps Blog