Mistakes made by Nicaragua’s army based on less-than-accurate information provided by Google Maps may have led to a border dispute with Costa Rica.
ABC News reports a Nicaraguan commander looked up his location on Google Maps to find out how far he could deploy his troops. When Costa Rica saw he had advanced too far, they deployed heavily armed police units and the president declared Nicaragua’s move “an invasion.” Negotiators are currently working on resolving the dispute.
A disputed and neutral island off the coast Morocco was mistakenly ceded to the African country and then to Spain thanks to yet another error via Google Maps in the same week. Fortunately, no military action took place over the incident.
This isn’t the first time information on the Internet has proved to be erroneous, and it certainly won’t be the last. Here are some other circumstances in which the Internet has helped or harmed humanity.
Elections in Iran were disputed in June of 2009 when country-wide protests broke out. When international media organizations were blacked out, residents of Iran did their own reporting. Cell phone videos were posted to YouTube and other social networking websites to reveal the truth of events happening after the election.
Opposition leader Mirhossein Moussavi rallied his supporters to the streets of Iranian cities in protest over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s alleged voting irregularities. When protesters began to be killed, the social networking videos went viral. Even though media outlets were blacked out, the public knew what was going on, according to Nielsen’s report on web traffic for that time period.
Wikipedia and Rush Limbaugh
When Rush Limbaugh lambasted Florida Federal District Judge Roger Vinson for the health care reform lawsuit in September, the conservative talk show host got a few details of his life wrong. Limbaugh or his staff did some research on Wikipedia which claimed Vinson was “an avid hunter” who had “killed three brown bears.”
Wikipedia is a website which allows anyone to post information on any subject. Sources need to be cited, of course, at the bottom of the page, but sometimes people make up stuff as pranks. It was a coincidence that led Limbaugh to the page, but surely some pranksters got in on the act once Vinson was going to be hearing the well-known challenge to the Congressionally mandated health care reform.
Classified Department of Defense papers from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been leaked through a website known as WikiLeaks. Founder Julian Assange is known as a hard-headed rogue who pretty much gets what he wants when it comes to leaked classified documents.
After the largest leak in U.S. history Oct. 22, WikiLeaks is now aiming for Russia and China. The United States has been unable to reign in Assange’s antics. Officials fear Russia may not be as forgiving as America. A Russian official statement threatened to make WikiLeaks “inaccessible forever” should Assange proceed with his plans.
The Internet is fickle. Depending upon your sources, you may not believe everything you see, read or hear. Always double-check your sources when deciding whether or not something is valid, accurate and true.
Radia, Kirit, “Google Nearly Starts a War. Seriously”, ABC News.
Nielsen Wire, “The Iran Election and Social Media: The New News Revolution”, Nielsen.com.
Calderone, Michael, “Rush Limbaugh falls for Wikipedia hoax”, News.Yahoo.com.
Shuster, Simon, “WikiLeaks: Is Russia the Next Target?”, News.Yahoo.com.