Penises Invade Google Maps ♂

by Chris Silver Smith

So, we’ve seen UFOs in Google Maps, illegal activites, marriage proposals, earth art, and more. Since I’ve reported on all sorts of cool things to see in Google Maps (including corn field mazes, advertisements, and more), I’ve decided to also report on the latest — a juvenile prank that’s now gotten a lot more publicity than was perhaps originally imagined. Yes, I’m sad to say that penises have now invaded Google Maps!

Penises in Google Maps

It seems that some students at New Zealand’s Fairfield College decided it would be funny to lay down phallic patterns of weedkiller on the school’s lawns, according to By the time the landscaping maintenance personnel realized what had happened, the penis-shaped patterns were already showing up. The maintenance people tried obliterating the definition of the patterns with more weedkiller, apparently killing all the grass.

But, not before Google’s satellite/aerial cameras caught the scenes.

Now, they have been published in Google Maps for the whole world to see.

Penis Graffiti in Google Maps

I wonder if Google’s procedure for blanking out Street View pictures that people object to might be invoked for these aerial photos? I could easily imagine the school’s administrators desiring for the pics to be suppressed/replaced, so perhaps they should ask Google if they could be removed.

Worse yet, the tooltip snippet from reviews when you mouse over the school’s marker on the map has been further gamed by someone so it’s reading “This review was helpful if you came here just for the penises on the field.”:

Bad review text snippet in Google Maps

These sorts of unfortunate tooltips snippets happen in a number of cases throughout Google Maps, and I’ve been consulted in a number of cases to help local businesses to get rid of text that was added by malicious individuals such as a disgruntled former employee.

The photos are not Google’s fault, although we can now worry that schools across the world may soon enjoy variations of this prank, and Google might ought to provide some methods for helping schools/businesses which get tagged in this way.

But, the snippet text is Google’s fault. There’s no reason why a number of keywords shouldn’t be automatically filtered to keep them from being highlighted in tooltips and snippets in this way. Such as a “penis”.

More interesting to me, could things like this Google Maps graffiti result in intentional guerilla marketing ploys?


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3 Responses to “Penises Invade Google Maps ♂”

  1. Nyagoslav says:

    It should be admitted that’s a well-thought and implemented plan after all. I just wanted to add a couple of strange/funny cases that I’ve noticed on Google Maps street view. The first one was pointed out by a business owner. He complained that there was a Budweiser exactly in front of his cafe, and it was appearing in the Street View screenshot on his Place page.

    The second one was a real strange glitch on the road, which looked like a black hole. And even stranger – there was a business “inside” it…

  2. […] Silver Smith blogging on Search Engine Marketing, Local SEO, Technology & more. « Penises Invade Google Maps ♂   Google Maps Hates Small Businesses By Launching Local Folksonomy Descriptive Terms […]

  3. On the side of the tooltips and filtering specific words, we actually found out that you can’t use the word ‘dicks’ within a profile at all. We were including ‘Dicks Sporting Goods’ as an additional detail for something and a message popped back at us that said “The term ‘dicks’ is not allowed.”

    So essentially they are filtering on one of of the spectrum, but not the other. Very frustrating and annoying indeed with all these PIA nuances of Google Places/Maps/Local/Boost/Tags/and the list goes on.