Update at 8:00 a.m. PST: Google has removed the image and issued a statement.
“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,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. “We’re sorry for this inappropriate user-created content; we’re working to remove it quickly. We also learn from these issues, and we’re constantly improving how we detect, prevent and handle bad edits.”
The original story follows below. The second image hasn’t yet been removed.
An Android logo is peeing on an Apple logo in Google Maps. See for yourself by heading to an area near the city of Rawalpindi in Pakistan at these coordinates.
The abuse was first spotted by users on Hacker News. If you navigate just east of the area, you’ll also find this amusing hint explaining what’s going on (these coordinates will take you there directly):
“Google review policy is crap” next to a sad emoticon says it all. This points to the cause being a Map Maker submission somehow getting past the approval process.
This is no Easter egg, as some have speculated — Google and Apple take jabs at each other publicly all the time, but the statements involve just a tad more class. While it’s unclear who created these images (though again, it’s more likely to be a clever Google user rather than a Google employee), this is not the first time this has happened, and it likely won’t be the last.
Less than two weeks ago, Google Maps showed Edward Snowden in the White House. More specifically, Marketing Land spotted a business listing for a snowboard shop named “Edward’s Snow Den” — a verified place according to Google Maps — with the location changed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Here is how it looked:
The location even had five reviews. One amusingly described Edward’s Snow Den as a “great source of classified information.”
Google Maps is an amazing tool, and while abuse like this is amusing, Google needs to get a handle on it. Users are finding jokes right now, but if these are managing to slip by, there’s no telling what kind of inaccuracies those with more nefarious purposes may add, or have already added.
We have contacted Google about this issue and will update you if we hear back.