MapWatch: Detecting and monitoring international border personalization on online maps

Gary Soeller, Karrie Karahalios, Christian Sandvig, Christo Wilson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Maps have long played a crucial role in enabling people to conceptualize and navigate the world around them. How-ever, maps also encode the world-views of their creators. Disputed international borders are one example of this: gov-ernments may mandate that cartographers produce maps that conform to their view of a territorial dispute. Today, online maps maintained by private corporations have become the norm. However, these new maps are still subject to old debates. Companies like Google and Bing resolve these disputes by localizing their maps to meet gov-ernment requirements and user preferences, i.e., users in dif-ferent locations are shown maps with di-erent international boundaries. We argue that this non-Transparent personaliza-tion of maps may exacerbate nationalistic disputes by pro-moting divergent views of geopolitical realities. To address this problem, we present MapWatch, our sys-tem for detecting and cataloging personalization of inter-national borders in online maps. Our system continuously crawls all map tiles from Google and Bing maps, and lever-ages crowdworkers to identify border personalization. In this paper, we present the architecture of MapWatch, and ana-lyze the instances of border personalization on Google and Bing, including one border change that MapWatch identified live, as Google was rolling out the update.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication25th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2016
PublisherInternational World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee
Pages867-878
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450341431
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Event25th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2016 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: Apr 11 2016Apr 15 2016

Publication series

Name25th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2016

Other

Other25th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2016
CountryCanada
CityMontreal
Period4/11/164/15/16

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Software

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  • Cite this

    Soeller, G., Karahalios, K., Sandvig, C., & Wilson, C. (2016). MapWatch: Detecting and monitoring international border personalization on online maps. In 25th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2016 (pp. 867-878). (25th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2016). International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee. https://doi.org/10.1145/2872427.2883016