Social media is rife with a message claiming Google Maps has removed the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan, and the Line of Actual Control between India and China. It states that a previous version of the map did show the disputed borders in grey, which has since been removed.
The message suggests that such a move by Google hints at the United States looking to get involved with India in fighting Pakistan and China.
BOOM received the viral message on its WhatsApp helpline number with a screenshot of Google Maps showing the India-Pakistan and India-China border around Kashmir.
"Breaking News : Google Maps removed LOC... It's just matter of time POK will be ours. NOT JUST LOC BUT ALSO LAC (line of Actual Control) WITH CHINA ALSO REMOVED. US might be cooking something for China. Don't forget today top level US officials met our NSA regarding Anti Terrorism Action against Pakistan. And this happens.Join the Dots."
We also found the same message going viral on Facebook and Twitter.
The viral text from Twitter.
BOOM found this claim to be factually incorrect; while it is true that Google has removed the disputed borders from the Indian map, it is not due to the US government's involvement but due to Google's revised policy on disputed borders which state that borders are to be shown according to local legislation. This suggests that the disputed borders can still be seen, if the map is viewed from outside India.
In February, Ethan Russel, the director of product management for Google Maps told the Washington Post, "We remain neutral on issues of disputed regions and borders, and make every effort to objectively display the dispute in our maps using a dashed grey border line. In countries where we have local versions of Google Maps, we follow local legislation when displaying names and borders."
Following Google's change in policy regarding disputed borders, Outlook reported that the LoC and LAC can still be seen in dotted grey lines, if the map is viewed from outside India.
To verify this, BOOM used a VPN to view Google Maps using a US server. We found that the disputed borders between India and Pakistan, and India and China can both be seen with the dotted grey lines that have been highlighted with the red circles in the image below.
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