Hit or miss? This time Google missed and it’s not entirely its fault

COVID-19 Uncategorized

Amid a complete lockdown in India, certain tourist locations come up as ‘Open’ on Google’s search results.

Bangalore, April 14, 2020

By Sanchari Ghatak

While Google services have mostly proven to be a boon to its users globally, a hit and a miss for its services however aren’t unusual as well. Amid the country wide lockdown due to the Covid-19 epidemic  in India, Google results is now misleading its users by flagging tourist places like Nicco Park in Kolkata, Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad, Bannerghatta Biological Park in Bangalore, HAL Heritage Centre and Aerospace Museum, in Bangalore, etc. as ‘Open’ for business.

However, this misinformation on the Google search results page is not entirely Google’s fault, since Google itself does not post updates. It goes live with updated data based on inputs from either its users or merchants.

Sources in Google said, “Google has a different portal for its merchants called ‘Google My Business’ (GMB). It is on that portal, that merchants are supposed to add their respective shops/institutions as well as update all their details regularly. This includes details like ‘Open/Closed/Temporarily Closed’.  Another way through which this works is by user updates and suggestions. Often users suggest edits if they have information of a particular institution being closed, despite of it showing ‘Open’ on the search results. Google, then, itself runs a check and makes the information live in case of accurate suggestions.”

Most merchants however, are either unaware of this entire process and have updated only their official websites, or just didn’t bother to update their details since the time they registered as a merchant on Google.

The office assistant at HAL Heritage Centre and Aerospace Museum said, “We have updated details on our website. We are closed since March 18, 2020, and this information was live on our website since March 17, 2020. We didn’t know that it’s showing up as ‘Open’ on Google. I will convey this glitch to our manager as soon as possible and make sure it is updated.”

The authorities at Ramoji Film City also confirmed that they are closed and had forgotten to update their timing details on the ‘Google My Business’ portal. 

“We are currently closed due to the lockdown; however, we somehow missed updating our Google business account. Like the whole country, we’re waiting on further details about the lockdown too. Once we know if there’ll be an extension or not, we’ll surely update this time. Extremely sorry for the inconvenience,” Raghu, a desk staff at Ramoji Film City said.

Google Maps had also been in the news earlier this year for allegedly misdirecting a driver into a freezing Mississippi river, because of a technical glitch. However, upon further investigation, the fire department revealed that the app actually told him to cross the water through the bridge over the river (as was shown on Street View of Maps) but he instead thought its instructing him to walk on ice.

Although a strict lockdown has been implemented countrywide,  the search results have been confusing users owing to the fact that there are a lot of speculations going around regarding the extension, relaxation, or total removal of the lockdown from April 30, 2020.

Rashmi Pal, a resident of Kolkata said, “I was shocked to see that Nicco Park is open even during the lockdown. My husband and I have been planning to visit an amusement park with our son once this pandemic dies out. That’s what he asked for his birthday, earlier this month.”

She has been searching Nicco Park on Google to get an idea of the packages that they offer.

“I thought maybe they have inside info about the lockdown and are sure that it will be lifted post April 15,” Rashmi added.

Therefore, despite internet services, especially Google being accurate almost all the time, it is only wise not to rely on the information on web without verification. These misinformations can not only pose safety hazards but can also get extremely annoying at times.


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