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Racial slur points to White House in Google Maps, sets off social media firestorm

Posted at 2:47 PM, May 20, 2015

Google Maps search

A problem with Google Maps is creating a social media firestorm.

Typing a racial slur in the search bar takes you right to the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. HuffPost Politics was one of several outlets to note the glitch, which involves the phrase “n**** house.”

A Twitter user named Bomani Buckhalter posted an image of the map. He told the Huffington Post:

“The screenshot first appeared from a fellow Howard University alum in our alumni GroupMe. I tested it out myself, and it started to spread rapidly in the other Howard University/DMV area GroupMe,” Buckhalter told The Huffington Post.

“It is location based, so [for] some of the students that are not currently in D.C., the search result was different. However, even if you’re not in D.C., ‘n**** house Washington D.C.’ shows the same result,” he added.

Google Maps search 2 copyThe results can vary depending on someone’s location. In one case, a user discovered the same search phrase led to a Waffle House. Another pointed to Howard University, a historically black college, the website reported.

A Google spokesman said the company was aware of the problem and trying to figure out what’s behind it:

“Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologise for any offence this may have caused. Our teams are working to fix this issue quickly.”

This isn’t the first time someone has used Google Maps for nefarious purposes. Last month, someone tagged the White House as the lair of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.