National

Malicious descriptions about North and South Korean groups temporarily displayed on Google Maps

JIJI

Malicious descriptions, such as one targeting the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, were displayed temporarily on Google Maps, it was learned Sunday.

Chongryon’s Tokyo headquarters was described as criminal on the online map, while the former Tokyo headquarters site of the Japanese opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) was indicated as the Japan chapter of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

The descriptions were deleted by Friday, and their author remains unknown.

On the map, the Mie Prefecture branch of the pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan, or Mindan, was labeled as an anti-Japan South Korean base.

Chongryon’s Human Rights Association for Korean Residents in Japan said that the descriptions were “discriminatory and cannot be justified” and that Google’s responsibility as the map’s provider can be pursued.

The SDP said, “Malicious postings should be restricted.”

Inappropriate descriptions by users have temporarily appeared on Google Maps several times in the past.

In 2015, three people were accused of posting information on the map describing the Atomic Bomb Dome in the city of Hiroshima as a nuclear test site. At the time, Google said it was strengthening its ability to detect inaccurate information and prevent incorrect descriptions.

Information technology journalist Yo Mikami said that Google Maps is a public service used by many people and that Google has a social responsibility to ensure its accuracy and prevent expressions of hate.

Companies and groups need to watch for improper descriptions on their websites by themselves, Mikami said.

A Google spokesman said that steps are “being taken continuously to ensure that (Google Maps) is used safely.” Google will modify or delete inaccurate information on the map if it is notified, the spokesman said.

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