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Google Sorry for Rewriting History, Changing Borders



google angel haloIn case you needed more evidence in this “Google isn’t perfect” file, the most popular search engine in the world has made a mistake. (Gasp!) Or, if you come down on the “Google is now trying to be evil” side of the debate, they’re trying to provoke international conflict by changing borders.

Google Earth underwent a routine update this week. As part of that update, it renamed areas of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh—in Chinese. This is particularly bad because China disputes that border, and have actually claimed portions of Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet. (However, Arunachal Pradesh is administered internally as an Indian state.)

If you’re a visual learner, here’s another explanation:
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A Google spokesman responded in a statement:

Earlier, this week, as part of routine update to Google earth, we published new data for the Arunachal Pradesh region that changed the depiction of certain place names in the product. The change was a result of a mistake in our processing of new map data. . . .

We are in the process of reverting the data to its previous state and expect the change to be visible in the product shortly. . . .

We would like to clarify that this issue did not impact our depiction of international borders.

I know, I know, despite my title, they’re not sorry, and they claim not to have changed the borders. Instead, they just gave places in Arunachal Pradesh Chinese names. Like, you know, South Tibet. (Kidding. I’m sure they didn’t do that.)

What do you think? Has Google earth gained so much currency that they could actually precipitate an international incident? Or is this a sign that we’ve reached a new era of understanding, where we can solve border disputes through the source of all our answers (you know, Google)?

  • http://www.johnon.com john andrews

    Welcome to the modern world:

    - user submits edits to Google maps
    - Google accepts them into the map data and republishes them, redefining international borders
    - someone updates wikipedia to show new borders, thus making it official
    - teachers promptly update their lesson plans, because, well, wikipedia says so
    - a generation learns the new borders at school, and witnesses the verbal disputes amongst parents/grandparents who also claim Wikipedia and Google are stupid (yeah, right!)
    - upon hearing of these disputes, Americans check wikipedia and decide it’s all just nonsense… those crazy Elbonian back country borders are clearly defined by wikipedia, and even Google maps shows them the same way. Someday those yokels will get The Internets and be learn a thing or two, instead of just feuding. American’s go back to watching “Cops” and “the Bachelor” on TV.
    .-= john andrews´s last blog ..Google Loves Brands in a Hard-Coded Way? =-.

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  • Rajesh

    Well – this is the joke.

    In google maps India – Arunachal Pradesh is shown in English and Hindi (a popular language – NOT the national language of India or anything).

    In google maps China – Arunachal Pradesh is shown in Chinese (while the other states of India) are still shown in English and Hindi.

    In google maps India – Arunachal Pradesh is shown as part of India
    In google maps China – Arunachal Pradesh is shown as China !!!!!

  • http://www.free-speed-reading.com/ Robert

    Seems a little silly to create a national controversy over, and this is the 4th or 5th place I’ve seen with similar articles, but then again, I’m not the chinese government. Leave it to them to get all excited over this.

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