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Google Maps inundated with false placenames depicting anti-Israel messages at Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt

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CNN
 — 

When Google Maps customers navigated to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Tuesday, they could have seen placenames that included, “F**k Israel,” and “May god curse Israel’s Jerusalem.”

Cyber activists appeared to have focused the service to put up anti-Israel messages, possible by profiting from a function on Google Maps that permits individuals to create and contribute details about companies and landmarks that seem on the service.

CNN discovered dozens of anti-Israel placenames created in Arabic and English, together with one in Arabic that learn, “Palestine is free, may god forgive us.”

There is not any proof that any Google techniques had been breached or compromised as a part of this stunt which, Ben Decker, CEO of on-line menace evaluation firm Memetica, described as “cyber vandalism.”

“Cyber vandalism traces its origins back to the early stages of the internet,” Decker mentioned, “when communities would hack into and deface websites.”

Google, which additionally owns the map service Waze, mentioned on Monday it was disabling its reside visitors information in Israel and Gaza as Israeli forces put together for a possible floor invasion of Gaza.

The firm didn’t say if the motion was on the request of the Israel Defense Forces. CNN reached out to the IDF for remark.

Google took the identical motion at the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine final 12 months after on-line researchers used reside visitors information to trace the actions of Russian troops.

It is unclear if the concentrating on of Google Maps with anti-Israeli messages was the results of the corporate’s determination to disable reside visitors information.

After CNN shared a number of examples of faux anti-Israel placenames with Google on Tuesday, an organization spokesperson mentioned, “On Google Maps, we strive to strike the right balance of helping people find reliable information about local places, and reducing inaccurate or misleading content. We have clear policies for user contributions – we are actively reviewing the examples you shared and are in the process of removing policy-violating content.”

Many of the pretend placenames had been nonetheless reside as of Tuesday night.

Memetica’s Decker mentioned cyber vandalism is “a politically agnostic form of hacktivism that has been used by online communities around the world.”

“The reason cyber vandalism is far more prevalent than real-world vandalism, particularly when it comes to geopolitical conflicts like Israel-Gaza, is that it can be a completely faceless and anonymous act,” he mentioned.

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