25 Biggest Google Maps Mistakes

Posted by , Updated on March 24, 2024

Undoubtedly, most of us have encountered an error on Google Maps at least once. Whether it directed us along an unfamiliar route, plunged us into heavier traffic, or continuously suggested a completely different destination than we intended, these glitches are part and parcel of using technology. Nevertheless, it is one thing when a Google Maps mistake results in incorrect directions, and quite another when it has implications for international border discussions. Yes, Google Maps plays such a critical role in maintaining global stability that a single error can incite international disagreements. Interested in learning more? Prepare to discover the 25 Biggest Google Maps Mistakes.



Mount Rushmore

mount rushmoreSource: http://www.courant.com/consumer/hc-ls-tech-google-maps-errors-0410-20160411-story.html

For nearly five years, Google Maps was sending people to the wrong location when they typed “Mount Rushmore, SD.” Instead, it took people to a retreat center called “Storm Mountain Center,” which was about thirteen miles away from the real Mount Rushmore. The problem became so persistent, they had to put up a street sign warning people about it.


Round Valley State Park

round valleySource: https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/google-maps-mistakes-jersey-house-state-park/story?id=14056722

When people entered “Round Valley State Park” into Google Maps, they instead ended up at New Jersey resident Laurie Gneiding’s house. People trickled in at first, asking for the state park, and Gneiding would kindly tell them they were on private property and where the park was actually located. Eventually, dozens would come by every year at all hours, sometimes acting indignant and belligerent.


Wrong Direction

wrong waySource: http://www.courant.com/consumer/hc-ls-tech-google-maps-errors-0410-20160411-story.html

This is more human error than Google’s error, but at one point, Noel Santillan, an American tourist in Iceland, drove six hours in the wrong direction simply because he spelled part of the address wrong.


The Intercounty Connector

marylandSource: http://www.baltimoresun.com/bs-mtblog-2011-03-on_google_the_icc_is_open_all_1-story.html

In 2011, while they were doing construction in Maryland on the Intercounty Connector, an electric toll road, Google Maps indicated the entire 41.9-mile stretch was open. In fact, only 6-miles of it had been completed and the rest was still a construction site.


Emden, Germany

emdenSource: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-12558741

Located in North-West Germany, Emden sits right next to the Netherlands border, and Google made the error of including part of Emden’s harbor in Netherland’s territory. According to a Google spokesman, however, a border dispute dating back to the 15th century was to blame.


Grand Canyon

grand canyonSource: https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/relying-on-google-maps-got-this-woman-stranded-in-the-grand-canyon-for-five-days/news-story/5c0e6b404f6d24ecab7bd857ca12c722

While visiting the Grand Canyon, 24-year-old Amber Vanhecke used Google Maps to guide her way, but unfortunately, it took her down a wrong road, leaving her stranded when her car ran out of gas. With her phone not working and her food and water diminishing, she thought she was going to die and recorded farewell videos. Luckily, after 119 hours, she was rescued.


Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon_collectivity_location_map.svgSource: https://www.cio.com/article/2405903/internet/6-memorable-google-maps-mishaps.html#slide7

In 2010, someone reported that Google Maps incorrectly had the French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon underwater. Though the land formations were gone, the roads remained intact.


Boston South Station

boston south stationSource: https://www.reddit.com/r/GoogleMaps/comments/381ar2/thousands_have_likely_been_misled_by_this_boston/

A Redditor discovered the Google Map directions to Boston’s popular and traffic heavy South Station were placing the building underground adjacent to I-93. Even though the building extends below ground, there’s no entrance underground. He found this out when his driver kept dropping him off at the wrong spot.


Christ the Redeemer

christ the redeemerSource: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/28/tourists-using-google-maps-to-get-to-rio-landmark-enter-favela-get-shot.html

Argentinian tourist Natalia Lorena Cappetti, her husband, and another couple used Google Maps to get to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Instead, Google Maps took them to Morro dos Prazeres, one of their most dangerous slums. When they traveled through there, they endured heavy gunfire and Natalia Cappetti was shot in the back. At the time of reporting, she was in serious condition and undergoing surgery.


Rowlett, Texas

Demolished_house_Alftanes_1Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/lindsay-diaz-google-maps-demolition-house-home-accident-a6952356.html

In 2016, Lindsay Diaz pulled up to her driveway to find quite a surprise – her entire house was demolished. The firm Billy L Nabors Demolition tore down her house by mistake, claiming they used an incorrect listing on Google Maps.


Underwater Tunnel

norway tunnelSource: https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/ground-transportation/cyclist-shuts-down-underwater-tunnel

After using Google Maps for directions, a Turkish cyclist shut down a 4.5-mile underwater tunnel in Norway for thirty minutes as it wasn’t made for cyclists. Authorities had to go on a rescue mission to find the man and remove him from the area.


Sunrise, FL

city of sunriseSource: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/web/09/22/google.lost.sunrise.florida/index.html

In 2010, Google Maps virtually erased an entire city from the map. It’s called Sunrise, Florida, and at the time, if you tried to enter it in Google Maps, you’d be taken to Sarasota, Florida, instead. Funny enough, it’s not a small city either, boasting 90,000 people, a large mall, a National Hockey League team, and one of the first IKEA’s in the state.


Business Shut Down

going out of businessSource: http://smahtideas.com/google-maps-can-hurt-your-business/

Google Maps can have a devastating effect on businesses. In 2010, several Buffalo, NY jewelry stores noticed a detrimental slowing of their sales. Someone told Google Maps their businesses were shut down, limiting their exposure to only foot traffic. They found out later the culprit was a rival jewelry store owner.



BorgarfjörðurSource: http://icelandmag.is/article/error-google-maps-send-foreign-travellers-holiday-home-neighborhood

The Icelandic holiday village of Borgarfjörður also noticed increased tourist traffic when Google Maps incorrectly brought tourists there instead of Svignaskarð farm and cottages, roughly 5 miles north of Borgarfjörður.


Walking Directions

los angelesSource: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/7795460/Lauren-Rosenberg-US-woman-sues-Google-after-Maps-directions-caused-accident.html

Los Angeles resident Lauren Rosenberg decided to go for a stroll one day and used Google Maps to find the safest route to guide her 2-mile path. It eventually took her down to a four-lane highway without sidewalks, a place clearly unsafe for pedestrians. She continued to follow the path and walked out on the highway with high-speed traffic. As a result, Rosenberg ended up hospitalized and sued Google for damages, but the court ruled against her.


Costa Rica-Nicaragua Border

costa rica nicaraguaSource: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/web/11/05/nicaragua.raid.google.maps/index.html

In 2010, when Google Maps drew the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border, Nicaraguan troops crossed over, removed the Costa Rica flag and placed down their own. The dispute became so heated, the U.N. Security Council and Organization of American States had to intervene. They determined Google Maps was, indeed, wrong.


Preikestolen Cliff

Preikestolen_with_boatSource: https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/mobile-apps/norwegian-town-preikestolen-google-maps

For a time, tourists in Norway looking for Preikestolen cliff were in for a rude awakening if they used Google Maps. Instead, the app would send them to Fossmork, a small Norwegian village about 20-miles away. The town would become overwhelmed with dozens of minibusses full of tourists, looking for the cliff.


Jakarta, Indonesia

jakartaSource: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2139712/you-have-not-arrived-why-google-maps-lost-cause-indonesian-drivers

According to residents of Jakarta, using Google Maps only makes your travel worse. In one case, a food delivery driver used the app only to end up in a totally different spot than she needed and had to ask around for directions. Many ride-hailing drivers also refuse to use the app, feeling it won’t have the shortcuts needed to get to a location quickly.


Scottish Island

calmac ferrySource: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-23331456

Along with a city and islands in Canada, Google Maps also had the power to make the Scottish island of Jura disappear. In 2013, users noticed the disappearance the island and contacted Google about it. They admitted to the error and said, “…our engineers are beavering away to fix it.”


Wal-Mart Closed

wal-martSource: http://www.koco.com/article/google-business-listing-shows-all-walmart-stores-permanently-closed/4309070

A report by 5 KOCO News claimed in 2016 that if you searched on Google Maps for a Wal-Mart, it listed the megastore as permanently closed. At the time of reporting, it was unclear who was responsible or when the problem would be fixed. One thing is for sure, Wal-Mart is definitely not closed.


Farm Glitch

farmSource: https://splinternews.com/how-an-internet-mapping-glitch-turned-a-random-kansas-f-1793856052

After an IP mapping error by a company called MaxMind, a simple family living on a farm underwent harassment from all kinds of people for years. Google Maps used this address so that when anyone searched for it, tons of nefarious activities would come up in the search, but the farm had nothing to do with any of it. For ten years, they’ve been accused of being frauds, kidnapping children, and were even investigated by the FBI, IRS, and other police organizations. Eventually, MaxMind updated their database to the correct information.


Serbian Crown

serbian crownSource: https://www.wired.com/2014/07/hacking-google-maps/

In another case of business tampering, the Serbian Crown, a delicacy restaurant open for 40 years, was forced to shut its doors when it lost 75 percent of its clientele overnight. The problem persisted, and the owner had to lay off his staff and eventually close up shop. He found out later that Google Maps had incorrectly stated the store wasn’t open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, three of his prime business days. The owner’s lawyers suspect another business sabotaged them by posting the false hours.


Indecent Exposure

google mapsSource: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/google-street-view-of-quebec-woman-s-breast-leads-to-damages-award-1.2815841

While a Montreal woman sat on her front step scrolling through her smartphone, a Google Street View car drove by, taking pictures. Years later, she remembered the encounter and went to go see the results. They blurred her face, but not her home address, her car license plate, nor her partially exposed breast. She filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming a violation of privacy and ended up winning.


Fake Numbers

old phoneSource: http://valleywag.gawker.com/how-a-hacker-intercepted-fbi-and-secret-service-calls-w-1531334747

Network engineer Bryan Seely discovered a flaw in Google’s lax approach to their Google Maps system. He set up two fake listings for both the FBI and the US Secret Service, providing fake phone numbers. When unwitting citizens would call those numbers, they would dial into his number which would then reroute them to a real FBI location. However, they were using his line, and he would record the calls. Seely was eventually caught by the Secret Service but was let go soon after when they discovered he did it to prove a point after Google ignored his pleas to fix the problem.


Racial Slur

White_House_DCSource: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/05/19/if-you-search-google-maps-for-the-n-word-it-gives-you-the-white-house/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3549c52f25dd

In 2015, it was discovered that if you typed in “N***** king” into Google Maps, it would take you to the White House. Other offensive racial epithets were attributed to the White House as well. This was due to Google allowing people to have the ability to edit features on its maps. When Google became aware of this, it suspended the accounts of those responsible.

Photo: Featured Image - Shutterstock, 1. AgnosticPreachersKid, White House DC, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 2. pxhere.com (Public Domain), 3. Padaguan, Google Street View camera car, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 4. Google Maps Screenshot (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 5. MaxPixel.net (Public Domain), 6. Bobby P., Wal-Mart, Houghton Lake (now closed), CC BY 2.0, 7. dun_deagh, Calmac Ferry Lord of the Isles Leaving Jura Behind (6166904812), CC BY-SA 2.0 , 8. Gunawan Kartapranata, Jakarta Car Free Day, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 9. Andreas Rümpel, Preikestolen with boat, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 10. AlexCovarrubias, Nicaragua Costa Rica San Juan River border, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 11. PxHere.com (Public Domain), 12. The.Rohit, Road to the Borgarfjörður Eystri-1, CC BY 2.0 , 13. timetrax23, going out of business, CC BY 2.0, 14. via www.sunrisefl.gov (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 15. Jarvin, Mastrafjordtunnelen, CC BY 3.0 , 16. Jóhann Heiðar Árnason, Demolished house Alftanes 1, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 17. KátiaLira, O Cristo Redentor, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 18. Fletcher6, South Station Terminal Inside, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 19. Entlinkt, new version by Sting, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon collectivity location map, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 20. Murray Foubister, Dawn on the S rim of the Grand Canyon (8645178272), CC BY-SA 2.0 , 21. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 22. Famartin, 2016-09-09 13 06 02 View west along Maryland State Route 200 (Intercounty Connector) just west of U.S. Route 1 (Baltimore Avenue) in Konterra, Prince Georges County, Maryland, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 23. MaxPixel.net (Public Domain), 24. sankar govind, On their seperate ways, CC BY 2.0, 25. Jim Bowen from Hope Mills NC, US, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, CC BY 2.0