Google Palestine: Is Google Taking Sides?

Google has placed itself smack dab in the middle of a geopolitical conflict in its move to change the name of from “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine.” The name “Palestine” is controversial to some while Israel and the Palestinian National Authority continue to negotiate political geographic borders.


In effect May 1, the name change caused outrage by some and praise by others. A post from the BBC last week reported Google said it’s following the footsteps of organizations like the United Nations, which voted to grant Palestine “non-member observer state status” in November 2012.

In a statement, Google explained its decision:

“In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, Icann [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation] and other international organisations.”

The Palestinian National Authority also commented on the matter at the BBC:

“This is a step in the right direction, a timely step and one that encourages others to join in and give the right definition and name for Palestine instead of Palestinian territories.”

Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson, Yigal Palmor, was quoted by Fox News as saying:

“Google is not a diplomatic entity which begs the question why are they getting involved in international politics and on the controversial side.”

Is Google, in fact, making a political statement and taking sides? Or is the search engine caught up in a sticky Web of political dissension?

Reuters highlights other Google products entangled in the political controversy:

“Google Maps currently shows little or no detail for major Palestinian towns such as Nablus and Ramallah, while many Jewish West Bank settlements have streets and parks clearly labeled.”

What do you think … how should Google handle these controversial issues when its products are directly intertwined?

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