10 Dumbest Google Maps Fails

by Nicole June 17th, 2011 

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Image via Googlesystem

Google is as essential and ubiquitous in our lives today as mammoths were to our early ancestors. Hopefully our childrens childrens children will not find Google employees frozen in the Siberian ice. If they do, however, it will be because Google Maps led them there on the way to Rio. And if they do ever manage to unthaw one of these people-sicles, you can bet the newly unfrozen former employee of the big G will gasp out: Walking directions are in Beta! Join us as we take a " ahem, circuitous " tour of the ten dumbest Google Maps fails.

10. Emden

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Image via BBC

For centuries, the Netherlands and Germany have been squabbling over ownership of the port of Emden. Gladly, though, they must squabble no more.

Yes, Google confirmed that the town belongs to Germany, but gave the whole of its harbor to the Dutch, much to the chagrin of local officials. Google has since amended its mistake, but it's not the first time its been involved in an international incident. In 2010, a Nicaraguan commander blamed Google for his invasion of Costa Rican territory " though it turned out he saw the inaccurate map after hed sent his troops in.

9. Airport Hotel

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Image via Andy Blackburn

Hmmm looks like a very rustic hotel; quiet and remote, without much in the way of luxuries… Like walls. Or roofs.

clip_image008Image via Andy Blackburn

This is probably because the hotel, rather than being in the flight path of large planes in Britain's Exeter Airport, is much more sensibly located in Torquay, some 18 miles distant. Shame. It could have been the perfect hotel for airport convenience. Right in between two runways, offering an unparalleled view of take-off and landing.

8. Rios Favelas

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Image via The Telegraph

Google ruffled some feathers among the Rio tourism industry with its choice of neighborhoods to highlight on its web mapping service. According to Rio residents, the labeling of various favelas is completely disproportionate to their size and importance, and larger middle-class and upper-class areas are not highlighted on the map at the same zoom. Clearly, looking after your citizens to a basic enough level so that there arent a mass of shanty towns on the edge of your city is less fun than pointing fingers at Google.

7. Canyon Drive

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Image via Zebrabelly

Some partygoers in San Diego were in for a nasty shock when Google Maps directions calmly instructed them to drive down through a canyon. Buchanan St, as labeled in the image, is, in fact, a gaping chasm of death. Google has, thankfully, rectified the problem, but those revelers are to be commended for actually thinking with their brains and not trying to follow the directions like drunken sheep.

6. Wet Feet

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Image via Oddee

Not many people would want to walk the 128 km from Alicante to Valencia, but it is possible that someone crazy enough to desire that much exercise might not be taken aback by Googles directions, which take the would-be traveler on a detour of an extra 250-odd km. Best to invest in some waterproof luggage for such a trip, too. And some shark repellent. Looks like Google is lost at sea

5. Bensalem " North Brunswick

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Image via Googlesystem

Talk about a long trip. Either someone in Googles offices knows something the rest of us dont or New Brunswick is a secret government site that were not supposed to go to. Trying to get there from Bensalem will involve an awful lot of U-turns " in fact its an infinite loop. There had better be a gas station on the route.

4. Taking the Scenic Route

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Image via Googlesystem

Google is well known for taking care of its staff. What's more, the Dont be evil motto also clearly applies to peoples health and emotional wellbeing as Google Maps transformed a 30-second journey involving crossing a road from Sydneys Shelbourne Hotel to Googles building into a much more scenic and invigorating 18-minute walk.

3. India vs China

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Image via Marketinomics

Google has endured various controversies in its relationships with Asian countries, with the Dont be evil concept apparently including aiding censorship in China (at least some of the time). Google clearly didnt want to upset anyone with its attributions of the ownership of various provinces, but India was not impressed when the Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh states were digitally partitioned away from the country.

2. Burakumin

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Image via Japan Probe

Who would have thought that a nifty little feature like layering old maps over current ones would cause a problem? Historical tensions and discrimination run deep though and in Japan this allowed anyone who was interested to see where the old villages of the Burakumin " a minority caste " would be today. The problem is, etamura, as these towns were labeled, translates as something like "village of the filthy masses" or scum town, and the overlapped maps allow companies to discriminate against the descendants of Japanese untouchables. Google has since edited the maps.

1. Perejil Island

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Image via Search Engine Land

You wouldnt think that a little island generally inhabited by goats would be much of a hot topic. Leila Island, as its known to some Moroccans, or Perejil Island, according to the Spanish, is another tiny piece of territory thats causing international problems. Google first gave the island to Morocco, but after consulting the UN decided to step out of the issue altogether and identify it as disputed territory. Then it gave the island to Spain, or sometimes to nobody at all. While its unlikely that Google Maps will ever be used as primary justification for a territorial dispute, it might be worthwhile to sew a little flag and stake a claim.

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