专讗砖讬 English Exclusive: Flickr took Israel out of its Maps

Exclusive: Flickr took Israel out of its Maps

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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.

***Updated story: flickr put Israel back on the map!***

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.

flickr – Israel no longer on the map

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.

Jordan – all the street names appear in Amman

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 names).

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 Israel…

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.

Current status

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.

A map of Tel Aviv in Google Maps – all the street names appear

The same map on flickr – everything was taken out

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.

***Update 1 (13.11.2012) The story has been picked up around the web:

This also resulted in some interesting response from the relevant parties:

* A Yahoo! representative had this to say [on the The Huffington Post article]:

The geographical data that appears on Flickr and Yahoo! Maps comes from a third party map provider and we are working with them to understand and improve the gap in geographic coverage that has been reported. Yahoo! always wants to ensure the best possible product experience for our users, and this falls short of those expectations. We are continually working to source and roll out coverage where there is room to provide greater mapping details. In particular, we hope and expect that you will see improved maps coverage of Israel shortly.

***Update 2 (13.11.2012): The story had been picked up by Cnet which mentioned that Cyprus is also absent from the Nokia maps. They got the following response from Nokia Australia (regarding both countries):

Nokia has the world's largest maps and navigation platform, with voice-guided navigation for around 100 countries worldwide and maps available for over 190 countries and regions. As per Nokia's long-standing policy, we are committed to neutrality and impartiality with regards to political issues. While we currently do not offer maps for Cyprus, we work hard on refining and improving Nokia Maps continuously and make maps available in as many countries and regions as possible. Because of these efforts we are confident that we will be able to offer maps for Cyprus in the coming months.

Nokia has the world's largest maps and navigation platform, with voice-guided navigation for around 100 countries worldwide and maps available for more than 190 countries and regions. In order to guarantee our users the best experience when using Nokia Maps we aim for the highest possible quality standards when offering our service. Based on the available map data, we work hard on refining and improving Nokia Maps continuously and make maps available in as many countries and regions as possible. Because of these efforts we are confident that we will be able to offer maps for Israel in the coming months.

***Update 3 (13.11.2012): MegaPixel just got an official response from聽Pino Bonetti from Nokia Europe who told us:

What I can tell you [regarding when we shall see maps of Israel. I.G.] is that we want to provide high quality maps, built by professional cartographers and validated on site. This means that sometimes we need some time to process the data and publish it in our platform or apps. I can't comment much further because we usually don't comment on our roadmaps [but it should be out] Anytime soon

[As for why Israel had no maps so far] 鈥 We don't have any specific problem with any country: some require particular government approval, others have border issues that we have to take care with our longstanding neutrality, but at the end of the day we want to offer maps everywhere, it's our business.

[Regarding the possibility to use open source maps until the professional/official maps will be ready] 鈥 Good suggestion, in fact we are currently testing the Map Creator project at聽http://maps.nokia.com/mapcreator聽in select markets.

***Update 4 (13.11.2012): And a few minutes ago we got another official answer from DJ Anderson, director, global communications for Yahoo! stating that:
The geographical data that appears on Flickr comes from a third party map provider and we are working with them to understand and improve the gap聽in geographic coverage that you reported.

We always want to ensure the best possible product experience for our users and this falls short of those expectations. 聽We are continually working to source and roll out coverage where there is room to provide greater mapping details. 聽In particular, we hope and expect that you will see improved maps coverage of Israel聽shortly.

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讟注谉 注讜讚 讘 English

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  1. 讚讘 讛爪驻讜谉

    11/11/2012 讘 11:24 PM

    complain to Yahoo at

    [email protected]

    讛砖讘

  2. Dorith Carmeli

    12/11/2012 讘 9:02 PM

    I do not see how to post a message on the yahoo page, but I put the link to this article on the nokia page. However, I am quite sure nokia will soon delete it.

    讛砖讘

  3. Dorith Carmeli

    12/11/2012 讘 9:08 PM

    Only now I saw the reaction of Dov with the yahoo addy and sent them a mail.

    讛砖讘

  4. Andrew Starlike

    13/11/2012 讘 8:38 PM

    am i seeing well or this website looks as it in a mirror or something. It's the first time i'm seeing such a website, it;'har even to write something here. Please, stop killing my ). head and do things normally (or globally standardized). And hope for awareness afterwards, thank you for understanding!

    讛砖讘

  5. 注讬讚讜 讙谞讜讟

    13/11/2012 讘 11:51 PM

    Hi Andrew,
    The website is primarily a Hebrew one with a few articles translated into English from time to time. This is why everything is more right to left than the other way around. Hopefully in the future this will change.

    讛砖讘

  6. 诪砖转诪砖 讗谞讜谞讬诪讬 (诇讗 诪讝讜讛讛)

    15/11/2012 讘 1:12 AM

    Yes, we know Israel is a fact–ON the maps, like it or not, and but The fact is you still have to protest directly to these evil doers/F.maps determent to destroy Israel / morally and legally wrong while kissing Arab rear-ends

    讛砖讘

  7. fede

    16/11/2012 讘 10:44 AM

    That happens when people, religious fascists think they're better than the rest of humanity.

    讛砖讘

  8. www.Cmalifts.com

    04/02/2020 讘 7:36 PM

    Qui tutte le informazioni.

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