Searching for the phrase “nigga house” on Google Maps brings up the White House. Other variations of the racist phrase (use your imagination) only work depending on your location, meaning whoever is behind this racist “joke” is targeting a handful of terms.
We noticed a few users tweeting about this issue earlier today, and the first message we could find about it happened more than 12 hours ago. Just a few minutes later, others had tested it on the mobile version of Google Maps as well:
The Current World We Live In pic.twitter.com/nszfSmA5Hc
— Bomani X (@AceBoonCoon) May 19, 2015
Despite the fact that half a day has passed, the search term continues to redirect at the time of publication. This is the latest in a string of vandalism acts on Google Maps. While the last few were amusing, this one is clearly racist.
Last month, 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.”
A couple of weeks later, an Android logo was spotted peeing on an Apple logo in Google Maps near the city of Rawalpindi in Pakistan:
The abuse was first spotted by users on Hacker News. Navigating just east of the area explained everything with a “Google review policy is crap” statement next to a sad emoticon:
We checked, and Map Maker is indeed still turned off. The team doesn’t know when it will be turned back on, but is planning to update users next week.
It would appear Map Maker isn’t required for the vandalism to continue on Google Maps. We have contacted Google about this issue and will update you if we hear back.
Update: “Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologize for any offense this may have caused,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. “Our teams are working to fix this issue quickly.”
Update on May 20: 24 hours later, and the issue still persists. Furthermore, Google Maps users have discovered that searching for variations of “nigger” and “nigga” bring up historically black institutions when you use Google Maps in certain locations.
Howard University shows up as ‘N***er University’ on Google Maps http://t.co/cLyoaPMBJN
— Bomani X (@AceBoonCoon) May 20, 2015
We have asked Google why this issue has persisted for so long and why it’s still not fixed.