Google apologizes for offensive Maps mishap

Earlier this week, it was discovered that searching Google Maps with certain racial slurs would return results for the White House. Today, Google has issued an apology for the mishap, noting that it has taken action to fix the issue.

According to Google, the mixup was due to the way Google Maps populates details about locations from information around the web:

At Google, we work hard to bring people the information they are looking for, including information about the physical world through Google Maps. Our ranking systems are designed to return results that match a person's query. For Maps, this means using content about businesses and other public places from across the web. But this week, we heard about a failure in our system—loud and clear. Certain offensive search terms were triggering unexpected maps results, typically because people had used the offensive term in online discussions of the place. This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren't looking for.

Google says that it has worked to fix the issue with a change to its ranking system, which will roll out across the globe over time.

Oddly enough, this is the second time in the last month that Google Maps has come under scrutiny. Toward the end of April, a user edit showed the Android mascot urinating on the Apple logo. This eventually led Google to temporarily disable user-submitted edits after it switched to a manual review process that quickly created a large backlog.

Source: Google