Google Maps feature divides the internet

GOOGLE thought it was being helpful, maybe even encouraging - but people apparently didn't appreciate it.

The tech giant has been forced to remove an experimental new feature from Google Maps which showed how many calories people could expect to burn when walking certain distances.

When people used Google Maps to search for a location and selected the walking option, it would tell them roughly how many calories they would burn and compared it to the number of mini cupcakes.

However users didn't appreciate the suggestion and it didn't take long for before social media was full of criticism.

US tech journalist Taylor Lorenz led the way, prompting a fierce online debate about the update after claiming it was triggering for people who struggled with their weight or eating disorders.

"I really can't express how much I hate this!!!" she wrote on Twitter.



Google probably thought the feature was fairly innocuous but the swift backlash led them to remove the cupcake-style calorie counter just days after rolling it out in the US.

Some of the online feedback was positive with users suggesting it provided helpful insight and motivation to exercise.

However Stephanie Zerwas, the clinical director of the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders at the University of North Carolina, agreed that it could have unintended negative consequences for certain users.

"We've gotten into this habit of thinking about our bodies and the foods we take in and how much activity we do as this mathematical equation, and it's really not," she told The New York Times.

"The more we have technology that promotes that view, the more people who may develop eating disorders might be triggered into that pathway."

The strong reaction to the feature sparked a heated debate online with some social media users complaining the criticism was over the top.

Either way, it ultimately proved too controversial for Google to stick with. The company pulled the feature yesterday, which it said was an experiment on its iOS app.

As one social media user wrote: Google Maps cupcake edition, we hardly knew ya.

Topics:  google maps

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