Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Google Earth Modified In Reaction To Criticism

I've posted before about Google Earth and how it allowed anyone to write anything about Israel, right on the map--including claims that Israel destroyed entire Palestinian Arab communities. Now Google has taken steps in the face of the criticism:
A new super-layer of geographic information in the popular Google Earth program now requires corroboration before user-generated content can be added to the default map display. The move means that anti-Israel markings placed by a Jenin resident are no longer visible to users when they first open the program.

Google was criticized in recent months for a series of orange markings overlaying the satellite map of Israel that were labeled "Nakba - The Palestinian Catastrophe." These were placed by Jenin resident Thameen Darby, and clicking on them led to the anti-Israel Web site Palestine Remembered.
Nothing is being removed. Instead, special algorithms have been developed:
Now Google has rolled out the new "Places" layer, which aggregates information from several sources, including Wikipedia, YouTube, the picture site Panoramio and the original Google Earth Community to present a richer multimedia layer over satellite maps worldwide.

Key to the new layer are special algorithms that corroborate information received through one source with the other sources. According to a company statement, this will make "it easier for users to learn about a given place through photos, videos, and annotations contributed by users around the world."
But it will also allow Google Earth to automatically corroborate any information received from users before displaying it on the default layer. Only information appearing in more than a single source will be displayed in this layer. [emphasis added]
Now it remains to be seen how effective this new step will be, and what Thameen Darby and his friends will do to get around the algorithms.

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