For the past few days, there has been outrage on several social platforms and media outlets, with people claiming that Google had removed Palestine from its Maps, labeling the region as Israel instead. Several groups started Change.org petitions which garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures within a few days. Numerous publications reported the same as well, which led to "#PalestineIsHere" trending on Twitter, and thousands of people claiming that they were boycotting Google services.
However, this issue appears to be a case of misinformation, as Google has now claimed that it hasn't "deleted" Palestine from its Maps service. In fact, it says, the region has never been labeled as Palestine on Google Maps, contrary to what is being claimed.
In a statement to Engadget, a Google spokesperson had the following to say:
There has never been a 'Palestine' label on Google Maps, however we discovered a bug that removed the labels for 'West Bank' and 'Gaza Strip.' We're working quickly to bring these labels back to the area.
Prior to this statement, the Forum of Palestinian Journalists had called Google out for what it deemed to be a "failed attempt to tamper with the memory of Palestinians and Arabs as well as the world." The organization also demanded that Google should apologize to the people of Palestine, as its move was "designed to falsify history, geography as well as the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland."
While the controversial issue has apparently turned out to be largely a case of misinformation and misunderstanding, it is likely far from being resolved, given the divisive views millions of people hold regarding the matter.