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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 1 December 2020

Here's what happens when you search for your own name on Google Maps

And the likely reason why it presents such results.

WHERE EXACTLY ARE you now? Or more specifically, where does Google think you are at this moment?

After having to apologise for the term ‘n***** king’ bringing people to the White House, it has led to many people searching their own name to see what results come up, something you’ll either find interesting or somewhat creepy.

Naturally enough, we tried it out and the results were varied to say the least.

In most cases, it selected the university or college that we attended (or didn’t in some cases), while a few linked to businesses which shared the same name but had no link to the person searching.

Quinton O'Reilly Source: Google Maps

Some results were a little vague.

Google Maps Snowden Source: Google Maps

While others were oddly specific.

enda Source: Google Maps

But what’s the reason behind this?

The closest answer we’ve have comes from Henk van Ess, a data journalist based in Amsterdam. In a post on Medium, he says the likely reason is because Google will search for your name in a number of databases to try and find the correct results.

If it can’t find your name, it will make a guess using another name close to the one you used.

Type in a name of a living person and Google Maps will try to match your name to a databases based on data of a local Chambers of Commerce or a similar source. This handy feature only works if the person is registered as part of a company, organisation, university or foundation.
If someone is not in the database, you often get results anyway. The reason: Google Maps tries to guess a name that is close to the one you used. So always concentrate on the logic of the answer.

He also says that searching for your Twitter handle or email can bring up similar results, the latter considering everything that might have that address in it.

Read: Google apologises after “n***** king” map search brings you to White House >

Read: A peeing droid has caused Google to suspend its map editing service >

About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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