The tech giant apologized after Google Maps searches that included the racist slur “nigger” shown to find the White House. It recently turned out that searches for “nigger house” and “nigger king” lead to the home of the US president Barack Obama.
When the case was reported to Google, the company admitted that some inappropriate results did surface in Google Maps that should not be. Google apologized for any offence and promised to fix the problem as soon as possible. However, the company didn’t clarify why the results were occurring. However, it seemed to take Google a while to fix the issue, because the US media continued to report the racist search results.
The reports also point out that it wasn’t the first time a Google search-based product went racist: for instance, 5 years ago, Google’s search auto-complete system suggested racist queries after the user typed just “why”. In addition, Google’s advertising system was shown to be 25% more likely to bring up adverts for criminal record checks when searching for traditionally black names.
The industry experts explain that both systems are automated and take user input from the searches on Google to predict the most probable queries and results. At the same time, Google was also forced to shut off its crowd-sourced Map Maker system for Google Maps. The system allowed users to provide corrections and additions to maps. It was closed down after pranks added a picture of an Android robot urinating on an Apple logo to the map.
Overall, the tech giant announced that it had been experiencing increasing attacks to spam Google Maps over the past months. Still, it is unknown whether the latest incident is a hack by a 3rd party or a problem lies within Google’s algorithm.