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But the online giant could never have predicted it being used to promote anti-Israel propaganda.
Google Earth is touted as a device to explore “Satellite images and local facts” about the world.
It has been used in international relief efforts such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and often as a reference tool by the media.
This isn’t the first time that the Google Earth has been criticised for its representation of parts of planet earth. Recently, Manchester residents complained that images of the city were out of date, after new developments such as the City of Manchester Stadium and a Hilton hotel were shown as building sites.
But revelations that it is also being used to freely promote anti-Israel views has alarmed the Jewish community and led to a rallying call for people to post positive and fair images about the country.
The program is so easily exploited that one TJ reporter managed to register with the username Booba_Meiser, Yiddish for old wives’ tale. Instructions were then provided on how to share information about places with other users. This was preceded with a warning which said: “Participants shall not post any material likely to cause offence.”
A Google spokesperson also promised TJ that all inaccuracies are amended, but in the case of Israel none of these terms appear to have been fulfilled.
Residents of Kibbutz Revivim may be offended to see their home represented by a warplane, or how would the people of Kiryat Arba feel to be accused of holding back water from neighbouring Palestinians?
Eric Moonman, President of the Zionist Federation is leading calls for fairer imagery of Israel to be placed on the device. He told TJ: “It cannot be that this is allowed to continue and it reflects badly on what Google has allowed to happen.”
Like most of the internet, the websites which Google Earth links to are unregulated and often a user’s personal and often misinformed opinion. A Google spokesperson said anyone is free to add their own comments, “People can contribute from wherever they are located, there are no restrictions.
“We believe it’s important to allow a free exchange of ideas, information is created by online communities and people can see where it came from.”
TJ is now encouraging its readers to post fair imagery of Israel on the program. See below for instructions.
HOW TO REDRESS THE BALANCE
To download Google Earth, visit http://earth.google.com, then
1. Click on the Downloads link.
2. Select the correct download boxes depending on whether you are using a PC or Mac.
3. Click Download Google Earth.
4. A shortcut will then be downloaded to your desktop, click on this and you will immediately be taken to a satellite image of earth.
5. Use the search bar on the left hand side to visit parts of the world.
To post comments and pictures on Israel:
1. Visit http://earth.google.com
2. Click the Google Earth Community link on the right hand side.
3. You can then register as a New User, giving your name, login and a password.
4. Once registered, you can visit Israel on Google Earth and upload your fair and positive images and remarks on the country and can also interact with other community members.
REMEMBER – All offensive comments will be removed so be sure to be balanced.How Google Earth Is Open To Exploitation by Marc Shoffman