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Exclusive: Flickr took Israel out of its Maps
Written by Iddo Gennuth at 11/11/2012 19:49
Copied from: http://www.megapixel.co.il/english/archive/35519
The exclusive story that we are publishing today is bizarre and some might
say downright disturbing. flickr – one of the largest social photo hosting
services decided to remove the maps of Israel from its site. Despite
numerous e-mails and phone calls, Yahoo! – flickr's parent company – refused
to comment on the issue. We bring you the full story.
Taking Israel off the map
Several weeks ago one of our long time writers, photographer Giora Pinhasi
shared with us a bothersome discovery. As a long time user of the flickr
photo sharing service he discovered that not too long ago the old maps of
Israel (which used to appear on the site, although being relatively old and
inaccurate) were removed completely. Only the names of 3 major cities got
left – the rest – including cities, towns, villages and streets were all
removed leaving practically a blank map of the entire country.
Pinhasi decided to contact flickr himself and try and find out if this is
simply a technical glitch. After speaking with one company representative
who did not supply any answers he was referred to flickr's costumer service
which simply did not answer.
It's important to understand that beyond the principal matter, there is also
a strong element of costumer care (or lack of) with the entire story.
Israeli flickr users such as Pinhasi and many others simply can't use
flickr' Geotagging service on their pictures and this is also true for
tourists and anybody else taking pictures inside Israel.
If you take a closer look at the flickr map service you actually realize
rather quickly that the maps used are not those of flickr (or Yahoo! for
that matter – which suffer from the same issue) but are actually "powered by
Nokia". The Finish mobile giant has a map service known as Nokia Maps (very
similar to Google Maps and other online street mapping services) which
covers (almost) the entire world. However as you can see when looking at the
maps on the Nokia site – Israel is completely blank (apart from 3 major city
Digging a bit deeper we realized something even more strange. flickr map
service also uses an open map service called Leaflet (you can see the link
on the lower right corner of the flickr map page). Leaflet uses a map
database from another site called openstreetmap.org which – to our great
surprise – actually does have very detailed street maps of every city in
Tel Aviv on the openstreetmap.org – every street is present – did
flickr/Nokia took them out on purpose?
Not the first time
This is not the first time international companies set up "virtual borders"
for Israel. In 2011 facebook decided that Jerusalem is the capital of
Palestine (something that was eventually changed after pressure from large
groups of facebook users and official Israeli representatives). A similar
thing also happened with both Apple and the BBC during 2012. However this is
the first time to our knowledge that the entire country was wiped clean from
the map by a well known international company.
When we here in MegaPixel first got the info about this story we decided to
act and contacted Yahoo! – flickr's parent company in order to try and get
some official answers. We were promised a response but after about two weeks
of wait (including a direct phone call to Yahoo!'s headquarters and another
failed promise for an answer) we decided to move forward with the article.
Our next step besides this article (which was published in both Hebrew and
English) is to work hand in hand with our content partners on Israeli
Channel 2 TV (MAKO/Keshet TV) to help spread the story.
How you can help?
Want to help get Israel back on the map? Here are a number of simple things
you can do which might have a big effect:
•Press Like and share the story with your friends.
•Publish and comment on the story on the Yahoo! page on facbook and the
Nokia page on facebook.
•If you know journalists and people working for the international media send
them the story and ask them to report on it.
•Have other creative ideas on how to spread the word? contact us and we will
be happy to help.
We shall update this article with any new information.
This is an English version of an article originally published on the Israeli
Photography website MegaPixel.co.il