Google Maps apologizes for racist slur in search results for Obama White House

The company is still struggling to remove the user-added destination name

Published May 20, 2015 4:30PM (EDT)

                    (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Searching the term "n****r king" or "n****r house" on Google Maps will direct you straight to the White House, the Washington Post's Brian Fung reported on Tuesday evening.

Google apologized for the horrific glitch, but still hasn't been able to totally fix it.

"Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologize for any offense this may have caused. Our teams are working to fix the issue quickly," said a Google spokesperson.

The Guardian's Samuel Gibbs reports that the search engine has had other issues with racist results:

It is not the first time a Google search-based product has appeared to be racist. In 2010, the company’s search auto-complete system suggested racist queries after simply typing “why”, while its advertising system was shown to be 25% more likely to bring up ads for criminal record checks when searching for traditionally black names.

Both systems are automated, taking user input from the billions of searches performed using Google to predict likely queries and results.

Product manager Pavithra Kanakarajan wrote that users would at least temporarily be unable to make their own additions to Google Maps following the breach: "We are temporarily disabling editing on Map Maker starting today while we continue to work towards making the moderation system more robust."

By Joanna Rothkopf

MORE FROM Joanna Rothkopf

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Barack Obama Google Google Maps Internet Racism Search Results Slur