Online outrage after Google ‘erases’ Palestine from the Google maps

Google sparked a big outrage online when it was found that Palestine was erased from Google Maps. The deletion or non-labeling of Palestine, the way you look at it, meant that Google was taking sides in the world’s oldest and longest drawn conflict. At the time of writing this article, thousands have signed a petition urging Google to reinstate Palestine on the maps service after it replaced the partially recognized state’s name with Israel. Palestinian journalists slammed Google for making “failed attempt” aimed at “falsifying history and geography.”

Though Google may be on the right side because the United States has not recognised Palestine as a separate independent state when 136 members of the United Nations recognised Palestine. And Google being a US incorporated company has every right to follow the US government writ. The outrage over ‘erasing’ may be new but the issue is quite old. When searching for Palestine on Google Maps, it shows an outline, but with no label for Palestine and Israel labelled alongside it.

The representation of Palestine on Google Maps has not changed recently, but after the forum of Palestinian journalists released a statement condemning Google, word spread via social media and later news outlets. People began sharing their outrage using the hashtag #PalestineIsHere.

A petition entitled “Google: Put Palestine on your maps”  has already received 250,000 signatories as of Monday. The petition accuses Google Maps of “making itself complicit in the Israeli government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine” either on purpose or inadvertently. The petition, drafted by Zak Martin, slams the omission of the UN non-member observer state’s name on the map as a “grievous insult” to Palestinians.

Google quickly put the blame on a bug. A Google spokeswoman said: “There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps, however we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip’. We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area.”