Since the formation of Google in 2005, we all are heavily dependent on its Google Maps. Of course, with greatest advancements in the technology field, travelling must also get benefit from it and it is achieved by using Google Maps for Navigation purposes. Also due to the increase in population rate, digital maps have become a significant modern tool for helping people while travelling.
No doubt, digital mapping has helped the tourists to explore the world without getting lost and also the citizens in daily life by providing them easy access to bus stops etc. But if we critically analyze, the power that digital mapping services have over the perception of mindset of individuals has actually raised many important questions recently about misrepresentation of regions and aroused conflicts.
The Case of Google’s Attempt to Digitally Map the Disputed Regions of the World
Borders are very important for every country from security perspective. And that is why the recent issue of “frontier alignments” raised an outcry when as reportedly Google Maps remove Palestine from its map. This news created a huge hype on social media platforms and also with a hashtag of #PalestineIsHere but the reality is that Palestine never existed for Google. Yes, actually, Google has never labeled Palestine on its maps since its inception whereas only the outline of Palestinian Territories (Gaza) and the West Bank were shown in the area labeled as Israel.
The spokeswoman of Google responded to this controversy saying that:
“There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps, however, we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip’. We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area.”
This case indicates that Google Maps are not only functionally important but rather they have a symbolic significance. It actually tells the perception of world about regions and borders.
Not only this, following are the other similar attempts by Google Maps in last few months:
- K2, Muzzafarabad, Skardu, Gilgit showed being as parts of India instead of Pakistan
- South Tibet region which is claimed by China but is administered by India as a part of “Arunachal Pradesh” is being shown inside Chinese territory by google.cn (google.com) by simply abruptly disconnecting the Indian highways from Tibet region.
- The incident of Google Maps, Ukraine and Russia over the annexation of Crimea
All these examples proved that how brilliantly Google Maps is getting involved in the disputed regions of the world in order to digitally map them; hence indicating its supremacy over the people’s perception.