Greg Bensinger in the Washington Post: “For more than 70 years, India and Pakistan have waged sporadic and deadly skirmishes over control of the mountainous region of Kashmir. Tens of thousands have died in the conflict, including three just this month.
Both sides claim the Himalayan outpost as their own, but Web surfers in India could be forgiven for thinking the dispute is all but settled: The borders on Google’s online maps there display Kashmir as fully under Indian control. Elsewhere, users see the region’s snaking outlines as a dotted line, acknowledging the dispute.
Google’s corporate mission is “to organize the world’s information,” but it also bends it to its will. From Argentina to the United Kingdom to Iran, the world’s borders look different depending on where you’re viewing them from. That’s because Google — and other online mapmakers — simply change them.
With some 80 percent market share in mobile maps and over a billion users, Google Maps has an outsize impact on people’s perception of the world — from driving directions to restaurant reviews to naming attractions to adjudicating historical border wars.
And while maps are meant to bring order to the world, the Silicon Valley firm’s decision-making on maps is often shrouded in secrecy, even to some of those who work to shape its digital atlases every day. It is influenced not just by history and local laws, but also the shifting whims of diplomats, policymakers and its own executives, say people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss internal processes….(More)”.