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Lesbian Couple Worries Antigay Slur on Google Maps is a Hate Crime

Lesbian Couple Worries Antigay Slur on Google Maps is a Hate Crime


The major search engine's mapping program had changed their street name to something much more homophobic. That has the couple and their kids worried.

When Jennifer Mann and Jodi McDaniel's 17-year-old son Dakota did what many of us have done in our spare time -- looked up our own street addresses on Google Maps -- he got a rude awakening. The street view of his address, a small home off Hilltop Farm Road in Canton, North Carolina, had been renamed. It was now called "Fagits Live Here."

His moms were flabbergasted, telling reporters of the incident which happened a month ago, that they couldn't believe it. They had lived in the home for four years without so much as an unkind word from their neighbors, according to John Boyle of the Asheville Citizen-Times.

But, says Boyle, the antigay slur was indeed there, misspelled, but identifying their driveway as the apex of the street name.

"I just thought, 'Are you kidding me?' " Mann says. "I tried to contact Google, but I was put on hold forever and ever and ever. This day and time, with people and hate, you just can't live your life." She calls the incident a "hate crime."

According to Mann, the slur was up for a month, without intervention from Google, until the Asheville Citizen-Times got involved and Google removed it this week. The Citizen-Times talked with local officials who said the name did not originate at the county level (where street names are approved).

Nicole Hensley of the New York Daily News reports that because Google Maps uses a crowdsourced tool to make edits, "it's possible the culprit recommended the change through Google Map Maker and garnered enough approval for the homophobic comment."

She says that only some edits are reviewed by Google editors, but generally only "high profile features" and, in addition, "Map Maker's moderation guidelines say content should be denied if it is profane, obscene or 'defames or attacks anyone.'"

For Mann's part, she told the Asheville Citizen-Times that their family is as average as anyone else's. In addition to Dakota, the couple also lives with Mann's two other kids -- one 15, one 23 -- and one grandchild, and have never experienced "any overt prejudice" from neighbors. The house they live in is the same one Mann grew up in.

"We don't bother nobody," she told Boyle. "We live our life normally like normal people do. [We] take care of kids, go to work, go home. We don't deserve this."

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