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Google Maps suspends reviews as Russian landmarks flooded with photos of captured soldiers and news clips

The Ukrainian IT Army and hacking group Anonymous encouraged users to review Russian places with ‘what is happening in Ukraine’

Adam Smith
Thursday 03 March 2022 12:13 GMT
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
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Google has blocked users leaving reviews on Maps for places in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.

Tripadvisor has taken the same action on its own platform, as users were posting political statements to the ‘reviews’ sections of businesses and restaurants in those countries to try and communicate across borders in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The idea was spread by a Twitter account representing the hacking group Anonymous earlier this week, as well as Ukraine’s ‘IT Army’ – a group trying to counter Russian propaganda.

“Go to Google maps. Go to Russia. Find a restaurant or business and write a review,” the Ukrainian “IT Army” told its 24,000 followers on Twitter, adding: “When you write the review explain what is happening in Ukraine.”

As a result, Google Maps began temporarily blocking new user-generated reviews, as well as stopping users publishing new photos and videos from the countries.

The company says it is to stop users violating its policy against fake, off topic, or abusive and defamatory reviews.

Tripadvisor, meanwhile, temporarily suspended reviews for listings it thought would be at risk from activists – directing users to its community forums for updates on the war instead.

As well as reviews, it has been reported that Google Maps users were posting pictures of injured civilians and captured Russian soldiers.

A review of the Zoological Museum of Moscow University stated “you have dead animals,” with pictures of captured Russian soldiers, while a monument to the Soviet film Officers is linked to dozens of photos of captive soldiers and screenshots of news clips, Motherboard reported.

Google has had to make other changes in the wake of the Russian invasion too. It recently disabled traffic tools in Ukraine due to concerns the information could be used by Russia to track Ukrainian troops.

Google subsidiary YouTube also suspended content from broadcasters RT and Sputnik, following the lead of other large tech companies who have also taken action against Russia media.

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