Google Maps is Different in Other Countries

Google Maps is Different in Other Countries


In 2010 Nicaragua invaded Costa Rica. When asked why they’d seized territory, they claimed it belonged to them…. On Google Maps. Who did Costa Rica turn to first? Nicaragua? The United Nations? No They went straight to Google, because in the eyes of the world Google Maps has become the de facto world map. Despite having no legal authority over international borders, Google have become the world’s most powerful player. Borders are a uniquely human concept. In most of the world the only tangible legitimacy they have is through maps. But the cost and resources required to make a map are staggering. Until recently countries were the only ones who could afford it. Cartography was a nationalised industry, which meant no map was without bias or influence. Historically if you wanted to seize territory from a less powerful nation. You just re-drew the map. When questioned by locals, you show them the map. Ignore their claims of already living there, and hold up the only piece of real evidence that exists. This is basically how colonialism worked. But with more genocide. Probably the most extreme example is Africa. In 1884, 10% of Africa was under European control. Just 30 years later, this had risen to 90%. Land was negotiated from thousands of miles away and countries redrawn with little consideration for local or cultural boundaries. Yet the map drawn then remains largely unchanged today. Most would argue that today’s map of Africa is correct. There is some objective truth to it, but 130 years ago it was nothing of the sort. Over time the existence of a map is self legitimising. While countries were the sole map makers it was fine if two states disagreed over a border. Each produced their own map and their citizens would rarely have a chance to see any other version. But as the internet arrived, nationalised mapping decreased and companies like Google started to fill the gap. An international company creating an international map for all. Not quite. Google still relies on the approval of nation states. It’s all too easy to censor a website. Google only have to annoy one government to lose a country’s worth of users. Any errors along the China-India border could lose them a third of the world’s customers. The region of Arunachal Pradesh borders India, China, Bhutan and Myanmar. Administrated as a state of India, they keep a hundred thousand troops in the region. But China also claims ownership calling it South Tibet. Each country has laws to stop map makers drawing the border in the others favour, or even acknowledging the region’s disputed. So Google creates three different maps… This is what two thirds of the world will see on Google Maps – the dotted line indicates disputed territory. But if you view the area from a Chinese domain it shows it belonging to China, and part of India from an Indian domain. No map maker previously had the ability to do this. Historically you had to pick sides. The average Chinese or Indian citizen would be unaware of any dispute. Or at least they would have been until Google accidentally switched the borders in 2007. This caused outrage in both countries. Many in China were unaware that most of the world didn’t recognize China’s legitimacy over the region. And members of the Indian Parliament accused Google of purposefully derailing an upcoming summit between the two nations. There are similar disputes all along the India-China border. All are heavily militarised, with regular standoffs, backed by two of the largest armies in the world, both with nuclear weapons. So just in case nobody noticed the first time round, Google managed to make the same mistake again in 2009. But the advantage of online maps is the speed they can be changed. A mistake of that magnitude 20 years ago would have taken years to correct instead of hours. Google can react to geo-political events quicker than any other map maker. When Russian troops arrived in Crimea in February 2014, it was less than a month till Google showed the territory as disputed. This was despite the United Nations asking nobody…. Google Maps in Russia shows Crimea as Russian territory, and Ukrainian when viewed from Ukraine. The fact that Google are willing to ignore UN resolutions is a big deal. Countries do all the time, they protect their own interests and alliances above other nations. But Google is a company who now has the power and influence of a state. They’re big enough to survive any confrontation with the UN and probably see Russia as the worse enemy to make. The UN moves slowly. The United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference, only meets every three or four years. Google have to make border and naming decisions daily. Those decisions may not have any legal weight, but everyone uses Google Maps so in reality they’re the most important. When South Sudan became a country in 2011, the vote didn’t specify the exact placement of the border. Leaving some towns and villages unsure whether they would be in Sudan or South Sudan. Each country naturally claimed ownership, but no official map would be made for a while. It was left to Google to organize South Sudan community mapping events. They encouraged local people to create detailed maps of an area that was lacking any accurate data. And through a semi-democratic process, an almost-precise border was decided. There are still contested areas today, and not without their bloodshed. But Google did more to help local territorial disputes than the UN or any state. This isn’t the only example of Google using local input as the basis for their maps. They publish a program called Google Map Maker, this allows anyone to make changes in suggestions. This is useful for new roads and public footpaths, but also helps Google decide what to call things. It’s strictly moderated and Google have final say over the public version, but like Wikipedia things inevitably slip through the cracks… For obvious reasons you can’t edit the border of a country. There are hundreds of disputes in the world – imagine the chaos. So Google don’t get involved with most of them. But here and there throughout the world map, it does change slightly based on where you’re stood. This may not necessarily be a bad thing. Historically the larger power would just stamp out the smaller one. But with Google Maps as the unofficial-official adjudicator, borders could remain disputed forever. Both sides constantly pointing guns at the other but rarely firing. Is a long cold war better than a short hot one? That’s a philosophical question best left for the comments. But for better or worse Google are making editorial decisions on something most people view as an objective truth. No political map can ever be a hundred percent accurate in the scientific sense of the word. At best they can be a diplomatic compromise, and at worse they can be a propaganda tool. Maps (and especially Google Maps) are amazing, but they should be treated it like any other media. They are subject to the motives and influences of the humans that made them. If you enjoyed this video, please consider supporting the channel by checking out the Patreon link in the description. Thank you for subscribing.

100 thoughts on “Google Maps is Different in Other Countries

  1. A lot of the disputed borders in the world are islands that multiple nations claim ownership of. The problem is there’s no differences on Google Maps as the borders are visually the same. 

    For the purposes of this video I have assumed that Google is politically neutral. There are a lot of good arguments against that assumption, but that’s a video for another day.

    If you want to try this yourself, click on the name of your country in the bottom right when on Google Maps – this’ll let you change your region in settings. Google is blocked throughout most of China and isn’t on the list, however changing the top-level-domain to .cn can sometimes work. Even though Google is blocked in China already, many citizens find a way around it. Google are trying become reinstated, this means they still have to keep China's government onside.

    Google Map Maker was discontinued in 2017, but a lot the features have been merged into main Google Maps site.

  2. TIL even the rich won't accept the reality of not being able to play both sides of a coin. Damn, it really is the 1920's again.

  3. What's happening with Crimea reminds me of Poland. I mean, countries problems require divided-in-two- countries solutions,
    If you know what I mean

    P.S. jk I don't hope for that😂

  4. I watched one video and I noticed you said "i have been recently demonized" I though 'why this video wasn't that bad what else did you do?' Granted I have watched others but I instantly clicked on this video after that thought… this sir… this is why you have been demonized… poking the Google bear

  5. Same with Western Sahara. I’m actually in Morocco and I see Sahara as Moroccan. When I’m in France (the rest of the time) it’s disputed.

  6. If you are in an gulf Arabian country, like Saudi Arabia, UAE or Bahrain, google will call the gulf "the Arabian Gulf" but if you are in Iran its "the Persian Gulf"

  7. It's nor Pakistan or nor India
    It's Nepalese land and the treaty is already over so we can get our land anytime!

  8. I live in Israel, the Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria are all shown as disputed in Google maps. It's kind of annoying, the USA recognised the Golan as a part of Israel, why doesn't Google?

  9. did you know that 90% of all border disputes are from colonial empires? the other ten is from the south china sea

  10. "boarders are a uniquely human concept" Really ? Do you know nothing of the natural world ? Something that is shared with just about every type of life form there is.

  11. Google, Facebook, YouTube and other American social media are Banned in China, So if YOU hate America you just need to delete the YouTube, Because there is a lot of countries that Hate America

  12. Once you accept that Google supports the Chicom and every other Socialist/communist government. You will understand. In America they are supporting the Democratic Socialist party and antifa. They censor anyone who supports the constitution.

  13. Oh, so that's why in India, I can see Gilgit Baltistan and PoK as if it is Indian territory. I guess in Pakistan, it might be shown as Pakistani territory.

  14. Borders are uniquely human?
    Tigers, dogs, wolves and many more mark their territories, same as borders for them

  15. Look…this is how wars should be fought:
    knock on the door
    Soldiers: Hi, we're just going door to door in your area to let you know we've taken over and made this area part of our country.
    Me: Oh ok…so what changes for me?
    Soldiers: Well if you look on this map, see this line? Well we've moved it on the map from here…to here.
    Me: Oh…I see. Anything else I need to know?
    Soldiers: Well not really. The people you pay tax to will change, but other than that, pretty much just carry on.
    Me: Ok. Great. Thanks for letting me know.
    Soldiers: No problem at all. Have a nice day.

  16. Si bien muchas personas utilizan la plataforma de Google para crear sus espacios y montar información importante y útil, creo que la propia plataforma de Google no es tampoco una plataforma oficial universal que está en la obligación de mostrar datos ultra precisos como las fronteras u otra información en otras áreas, aunque no dudo que el esfuerzo se hace y poco a poco la información debe irse actualizando conforme a la realidad se vaya haciendo inamovible.
    Siempre debemos complementar y afinar nuestras investigaciones a la vieja usanza, en la biblioteca y otras fuentes especializadas. Google puede ser nada más un punto de partida que nos brinde una directriz para nuestras investigaciones.

  17. Someting that I realised in the border between Portugal and Spain is hat there is a non-marked zone, like there was no border at al. Now I see it's a global thing.
    And now that I went go google maps tocheck it out, I realised there is a border now. Weird. XD

    EDIT: For some reason it is counting Olivença as a spain territory. :S

  18. Crimea never had a majority of crimeans living there, it was always Russia and will always be Russia

  19. It's simple man… Let the poeple from these terrirotires decide who they want to be with… Just like Crimea… They were all Russian speaking people, they wanted to be part of Russia. Hell… They are the ones who live there. Let them fucking decide.

  20. China is like give me Bhutan give me India give me Tiwan give me Hong Kong give me Tibbet. How can anyone get so greedy and blind.

  21. It is an important point of some of the big companies working in their interests, to please the interest of countries with nuclear power, over their maps borders, like google maps.
    Thank you for sharing. 👍

  22. One example is in the UK where Yorkshire County and Lancashire County hated each other via war of the roses so that was a tough period for cartographers. Later Manchester broke away from Lancashire County and other bordering town formed Greater Manchester.

  23. Ты назвал Россию худшим врагом ну все Британия наша за такие слова

  24. Honey! I’m from Crimea Simferopol Ukraine and Russia ruined everything. I had to immigrate from there because without a Russian passport you can’t live there. And I lost all my friends

  25. Thank God YouTube is banned in China, imagine the Indians and the Chinese starting a war in this section…

    oh crap nord vpn exists…

    oh double crap i'm indian

  26. Слава Украине!!! Я очень долго орал))))))))))) Когда увидел,что рюськие думают это их земля))) Блядь!)))))))))))))))))

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