Sun, Apr 26, 2015 - Page 13 News List

Google re-evaluating contributions to Map Maker system after practical joke

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Google Inc was re-evaluating its user-edited online map system on Friday after the latest embarrassing incident — an image of an Android mascot urinating on an Apple logo.

The image, part of a crowd-sourced edit on Google Maps, appeared briefly at a Pakistani location before it was removed by the online giant on Friday.

In a statement to US media, Google apologized for the inappropriate image and said it was working to step up verification of user edits on its Map Maker platform.

“Handling spam is a complex issue and we’re continuously working on ways to improve our systems, including new ways of preventing, detecting and taking down incorrect edits,” Google told news Web site TechCrunch.

The statement added that “the vast majority of users who edit our maps provide great contributions, such as mapping places that have never been mapped before, or adding new business openings or address changes.”

The incident was the latest prank affecting Google Maps, which can be edited by any user.

Earlier this month, someone revised the map of the White House in Washington to include a new business called “Edwards Snow Den,” an apparent effort to draw attention to former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked a trove of secret documents on US surveillance.

Separately, Google Maps is offering a more accessible option to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, where former South African president Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison and is now a museum.

Street View, a Google Maps feature that provides panoramic shots of landscape and buildings, on Wednesday extended its coverage to the island, enabling viewers to hone in on its rocky terrain and buildings via a computer or smartphone.

It also unveiled an audio-visual tour of the site, which includes imagery of Mandela’s tiny cell and the limestone quarry where he toiled during his imprisonment for opposition to white minority rule.

Mandela spent two weeks on the island in 1962, a year after the apartheid regime declared it a maximum security prison, when he was arrested for leaving the country illegally. He returned in 1964 at the age of 46 to serve a life sentence after being convicted of sabotage. He became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 and died in 2013 at the age of 95.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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