User-generated anti-Israel markings on Google Earth to have to go through new filter

Google Earth content will be 'verified' against other sources.

google earth israel 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
google earth israel 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A new super-layer of geographic information in the popular Google Earth program now requires corroboration before user-generated content can be added to the default map display. The move means that anti-Israel markings placed by a Jenin resident are no longer visible to users when they first open the program. Google was criticized in recent months for a series of orange markings overlaying the satellite map of Israel that were labeled "Nakba - The Palestinian Catastrophe." These were placed by Jenin resident Thameen Darby, and clicking on them led to the anti-Israel Web site Palestine Remembered. Google may also be facing a libel suit in the US by the city of Kiryat Yam, which the map incorrectly claimed was built on the remains of the Arab village of Ghawarina. While Google has defended its willingness to accept user-generated content placed over the satellite maps, the new layer, which was announced earlier this month, has made it dramatically more difficult for a single person to change the default information appearing on the program's satellite maps. The layer (or collection of information and markings placed over the satellite map) through which Darby made his markings was called "Google Earth Community," and was the product of a user-moderated online community. The problem, according to Google Earth's critics, was that this user-generated layer was displayed over the map of Israel by default. Now Google has rolled out the new "Places" layer, which aggregates information from several sources, including Wikipedia, YouTube, the picture site Panoramio and the original Google Earth Community to present a richer multimedia layer over satellite maps worldwide. Key to the new layer are special algorithms that corroborate information received through one source with the other sources. According to a company statement, this will make "it easier for users to learn about a given place through photos, videos, and annotations contributed by users around the world." But it will also allow Google Earth to automatically corroborate any information received from users before displaying it on the default layer. Only information appearing in more than a single source will be displayed in this layer. The company has not removed any layers or information. All layers, whether the massive Google Earth Community or small ones such as those showing a tourist's journey, local information in local languages or even historical maps, can still be displayed by choosing those layers in a menu sitting beside the map.