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Google Doesn't Map the Poor

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    HANNOVER, GERMANY - MARCH 02: The camera of a German Google Street View car looms over the car next to the Google logo at the Google stand at the CeBIT Technology Fair on March 2, 2010 in Hannover, Germany. Google's Street View project has raised cotroversy from people across Europe worried about infringement of their privacy. CeBIT will be open to the public from March 2 through March 6. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

    Apparently if you live in a wealthy area, you may be more likely to have your neighborhood included on Google Maps. If you live in a poor area, Google Maps just might ignore the geography, according to a new report.

    After noticing that the poor side of Lake Providence, La. wasn't on Google Street View, some say that Google "discriminates against the poor," according to CNN. Google denies any discrimination.

    "We try to cover as many streets as possible but occasionally we miss the odd one or two -- for example there may have been road work that day, a street may have been inaccessible or simply because of human error our drivers may have missed a street," a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mail to CNN. "Hopefully we can come back and photograph it at a future date."

    The argument is that the entire side of a town being inaccessible is unlikely, so it was a choice made by the drivers or Google. Google denies this, too, although a Google spokeswoman does say that the area was last mapped in 2008 and the region has been less documented than it would like it to be.

    "It wasn't for any reason about the demographics or anything like that -- or it being a poor area," she told me. "That does not factor into our decisions in any way to map areas. We're constantly updating this imagery and we're constantly trying to make it as accurate as possible ... We want the whole world to be mapped, that's our eventual goal. We want people to be able to explore different areas."
    There is no real evidence that Google's policy is to discriminate against poor neighborhoods, but it does make one think about why some areas are photographed and others are not. Was it simply that drivers missed a few streets or were the streets missed on purpose because its drivers felt unsafe or uncomfortable?