Google Maps Pauses Edits After Claims Ukraine Tags Used For Russian Strikes

Google Maps has paused the acceptance of edits after allegations surfaced suggesting that tags on the platform were being used by the Russian military in Ukraine. The State Special Communications Service of Ukraine denied these claims, calling them “another fake.” The country’s intelligence agency dismissed the rumors, stating that they were part of a psychological operation to spread panic and misinformation among the population.

In response to these accusations of Google Maps being used to coordinate Russian military activities in Ukraine, the company has started removing user-submitted locations within Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. This precautionary measure includes the removal of new content such as photos and business information. The aim of these actions, according to a spokesperson for Google who spoke with BuzzFeed News, is to ensure safety.

On social media platforms, individuals accused Google Maps of hosting content allegedly used to target airstrikes in cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv. Some claimed that the user-generated pins on Google Maps matched the places that were hit by missiles on February 28th. These pins appeared with titles like “ФЕРМЕРСЬКЕ ГОСПОДАРСТВО,” which means “farm” in Ukrainian, and “СІЛЬСЬКЕ ГОСПОДАРСТВО,” which means “agriculture” in Ukrainian.

However, BuzzFeed News was unable to independently verify the existence of these specific pins or confirm that they were added by Russia’s military. While screenshots of pins labeled “ФЕРМЕРСЬКЕ ГОСПОДАРСТВО” in Kyiv were shared on Twitter, it remains unclear when these pins were created and who created them.

After conducting an investigation, Google acknowledged that some edits referring to farms were made over a year ago. However, as a precautionary measure, the company will be removing edits made to maps in the region since February 24th and will temporarily pause new edits.

A Google spokesperson stated, “Out of an abundance of caution, we are removing user contributions like photos, videos, reviews, and business information, as well as all user-submitted places from Google Maps in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus since the invasion began, and are temporarily preventing new edits from being made.”

Furthermore, Google informed BuzzFeed News that it is analyzing Ukraine maps data to identify and remove inaccurate business information.

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Written by Western Reader

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