A viral photo and caption on social media claimed that Google Maps has removed the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan and the Line of Actual Control between India and China. The photo contained the screenshot of a Google Map of India that did not contain grey lines that signifies disputed borders. According to the caption this grey line has now been removed by Google Maps. Some captions also suggest that the removal of lines by Google shows that The United States is trying to help India fight Pakistan and China.
Some captions said,”Breaking News: Google Maps removed LOC. It’s just matter of time POK will be ours. Not Just LOC But also LAC (Line of Actual Control) with CHINA also removed. I presume US might be cooking something for China. Don’t forget today top level US officials met our NSA regarding Anti Terrorism Action against Pakistan”.
While the other captions were,”Breaking News : Google Maps removed LOC… It’s just matter of time POK will be ours. Give Thumbs Up if you all Agree!”
Several posts have been posted on Facebook with the image of India with LoC removed by Google Maps with similar captions.
Similarly, images of LAC being removed have also been posted widely over Facebook.
Similarly, in Twitter several Twitter handles have tweeted on the same narrative. Twitter handle “News Line IFE Live” tweeted the image with a similar caption and garnered 1.7 thousand retweets and 5.6 thousand likes.
The claim is false. Though, Google removed disputed borders from the Indian map, it is not related to the U.S government but due to Google’s revised policy on disputed borders. Regarding the disputed borders, Google website have said that ‘Disputed boundaries are displayed as a dashed gray line. The places involved don’t agree on a boundary’.
Washington Post has written an article on Google’s revised policy on disputed borders where it clearly mentions in the title, “Google redraws the borders on maps depending on who’s looking”. In the article, Ethan Russel, the director of product management for Google Maps said,”We remain neutral on issues of disputed regions and borders, and make every effort to objectively display the dispute in our maps using a dashed grey border line. In countries where we have local versions of Google Maps, we follow local legislation when displaying names and borders.”
Additionally, Washington Post also uploaded a video on YouTube titled, “Google maps changes disputed borders based on where you’re searching from”. The description below said,”From Pakistan, the Kashmir region appears disputed. From India, it appears firmly under Indian control. Google Maps changes disputed borders based on the country a user is searching from, demonstrating its ability to bend information to its will”.
Additionally, Outlook also reported that the LoC and LAC can be visible if the map is viewed from outside India.
Therefore, if the map is viewed outside of India, the disputed border lines can be visible.