Hey Google, Rhodesia doesn’t exist anymore. The country is called Zimbabwe

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Google News RhodesiaToday, we woke up to an opinion piece in a local daily newspaper that made us stop. It’s titled “Google is bidding return of Rhodesia”. And no, it’s not just link bait, read the article and visit Google news right now to see that Google seems to think Harare is in Rhodesia and obviously that Rhodesia as a country still exists.

The folks at the state owned daily are clearly not amused and we don’t blame them. Hey, how hard is it to get a country’s name right? The country is not called Rhodesia anymore. It hasn’t been Rhodesia since at least 30 years ago when the country gained its independence from the British. How did Google come up with this Rhodesia stuff? How do you mix up the name of a country like that?

Googling this issue, we discover our colleague over at Three Men in a boat, wrote about this very same thing back in early December. Rhodesia has been plastered on Google News in place of Zimbabwe for at least since December.

And it’s not the first time Google has angered groups of people with the data produced by its services. In November last year Google was roped into a dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua after a Nicaraguan commander cited Google’s version of a border map in an interview with a newspaper.

We have written to Google Africa (the Google Kenya office we believe) and we’ll post the response here if we get it.

UPDATE (04 March, 1500hrs GMT+2): We just received a response from someone by the name Julie Taylor at Google. Nothing much, just:

I have flagged this with our engineers and they are fixing it asap.

 



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20 Comments

  1. Valentine Nhunzvi

    Yes I’m sure Google Inc’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been hatching this evil imperialistic plan for quite some time now – just sitting there in their massive boardrooms in Menlow Park CA, waiting for just the right moment to slip in the word ‘Rhodesia’ in their news searches, hoping to foment another Egypt, Tunisia or even Libya so that the vast hordes of now octogenarian Rhodies can come flooding back to take back their farms…….

    Give me a break man.

    I have 5 Naira to say it was some BS typo or system glitch made by a huge multinational that could give 2 $hits about some tin pot little African country and its anal retentive obsession with ‘imperialism’.

    Bob…ibvapo mani! We want to worry about real issues – poverty, food, education, not stupid internet gwans.

    Reply
    1. Ozy

      If you want to talk about poverty, food, education and whatever sh!t you need go and visit The Herald. This is TechZim and this is what we want to see

      Reply
  2. Zimbo

    Everything starts with pride in what you have and if I can’t safeguard my Zimbabwe with love, I have nowhere to Start. Nhunzi, you wouldn’t understand what I mean cos for a hungry, poverty stricken man that you are, I understand your anger but don’t let it slip you into desperation cos next you won’t care how or who sorts your poverty, education issues and whether in a sustainable manner or not. You have displayed the treks of another African in need of fast aid in what ever form or strings attached. Ask yourself is it any good for posterity or you only want it for your satisfaction right now with no thought for tomorrow. My point is, the world is virtualising and we all live in the internet. If the world is going to do meaningful business with us, they need to know who we really are, ZIMBABWE and not Rod in Asia. Broaden your mind Nhunzi and watch your language; that was so unZimbabwean of you.

    Reply
  3. Tendai Mare

    valentine you are missing the whole point of the article. zimbabwe is not called rhodesia, and since the error is found on GOOG’s websites, it deserves to be posted on this site. You rushed to delve into the political ramifications, and yet this is a simple matter of right and wrong.

    if you don’t find it disturbing then you have a problem and you need to change your thinking.

    Please work on your patriotism, or perhaps you would rather be Nigerian.

    Reply
  4. David

    lets call Malawi Nyasaland or Zambia Northern Rhodesia. Even if typo error its not right to remain quiet about it. Google should fix this if not.

    Reply
  5. Max Soutter

    I don’t we need to get political about it, but i think that using the wrong name for a country is kinda a dumb mistake for Google, especially given the amount of information they have access to – the whole internet.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      yah, finding it strange they got this data wrong. You’d think basic and very visible data like this would be very difficult to get wrong.

      Reply
      1. Tafmak3000

        I think this could easily be an honest mistake after all this data is probably not compiled manually. Considering that the Google-bot/s which compiles most of Google’s data is a software program which contains complex algorithms bugs are bound to pop up. I doubt that this is just a text field that somebody types a country name into. Hack I wouldn’t even be surprised if it takes a bit of time before the bug (if it is one) is isolated and corrected! For the other useful data that Google provides for free(technically) this is a small price to pay. I doubt that Google is trying to take over Zimbabwe just yet.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          just to be clear, I certainly don’t think Google is trying to take over Zim. The data is not free ;) paying with our eyeballs on the ads.

          Reply
          1. Tafmak3000

            Nope, pay per click remember if you don’t click an ad you don’t pay ;). In a commercial sense Google IS trying to take over the world!!!

  6. Muchamaya

    ladies and gentlemen, I dont see why we need to come up with flimsy excuses for people who clearly bent on a subversive ploy. there is no way that`s a mistake and its a shame when we have our own at whom the vile and scorn is directed applauding.
    Google should rectify and issue an apology

    Reply
  7. Sang Noir

    Talk about a storm in a teacup: some people need to relax a little: geez. Google obtains it’s geo-data from various sources, some of them more outdated than others. Given the mind-boggling sizes of these datasets, the process is undoubtedly automated.

    It would be unsurprising if the data (and I’m speculating here) was obtained in the 70′s, digitized in 1981 & went uncorrected for this long.

    Reply
    1. Tafmak3000

      Sang Noir, I doubt Google relies on 70′s information to compile a list of current Country names. It would not be sensible for them to compile info from (what? books) and then digitize it when current information is already in place and already digitized.

      An alternative hypothesis I imagine is that maybe both current and old information about Zimbabwe does exist on the Google data servers and maybe due to bugs or errors the News service may call and display the wrong data for the right service or the other way round .

      Reply
  8. digitizing services

    The proper name of this war is Zimbabwe’s Second Chimurenga. Calling the Zimbabwean War, the “2nd Chimurenga” is NOT a ZANU or Mugabe idea -this is in fact what we, the majority of the people of Zimbabwe, call
    it. White Zimbabweans, especially those of the Rhodesian dispensation,
    are in the minority and they call this war “the Bush War”. Zimbabweans
    view it as the 2nd war of liberation from racist foreign domination -
    this process of liberation was, and is still, evolutionary. The 1st war
    was in 1890-4 which culminated in the execution of Nehanda and Kaguvi
    who were the war’s inspirational leaders.

    Reply
  9. Political Sheepdog

    If Google is trying to overthrow Zimbabwe and return it to the Prosperious Rhodesia, I’m all in. That would never happen Since it was the United States, England and France that fed Rhodesia to the Communists.

    Reply

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