Google Disables User-Submitted Maps Placements in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus

Written by Ipsita Kabiraj
Published on March 2, 2022

In response to claims that Google Maps were being used to coordinate Russian airstrikes in Ukraine, Google has blocked users from editing maps in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. According to a report by BuzzFeed News, the tech giant is removing user-submitted content such as photos and business information made since February 24 "out of an abundance of caution."

Netizens across social media platforms started accusing Google Maps of housing user-made tags that were used to target airstrikes in the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv. People claimed that user-generated tags began to appear on Maps, labeled "ФЕРМЕРСЬКЕ ГОСПОДАРСТВО" (meaning "farm") and "СІЛЬСКЕ ГОСПОДАРСТВО" (meaning "agriculture").

Google told BuzzFeed that even though some of the farm-related edits were made over a year ago, the company is removing similar edits and tags made since February 24 and will be pausing any new ones.

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

- A Google spokesperson

Earlier, Google had temporarily disabled some Maps' tools that provided live traffic data in Ukraine. This was done in order to ensure the safety of local residents after Russian forces invaded Ukraine last week. Google had also blocked YouTube channels associated with RT and Sputnik, which are pro-Kremlin Russian media outlets across Europe.

Other tech companies have also limited their services in Russia. Apple has disabled traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine. Apple CEO Tim Cook has also said that the company will be matching all donations made by employees to relief funds.

Additionally, Facebook had also taken down fake accounts spreading misinformation in Ukraine and restricting access that RT and Sputnik had to its platform.

Also read: Russia Restricts Twitter, Facebook & Instagram During Ukraine Attack (VPNs Can Still Help)

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