Swastikas have been appearing on various points of interest on the Google Maps application for people around the world.
On Friday, a woman named Katie from Dublin, Ireland, tweeted that the symbol appeared for her in place of the usual bed icon that would populate on the app for hotels.
“I opened my maps and was looking for hotels in the surrounding area, when I noticed the swastikas. I thought it very strange so I took a screenshot. That’s when I tweeted Google maps questioning it,” Katie told HuffPost via direct message on Twitter.
“I’ve since closed the app and reopened it and it’s back to normal with the bed. This is the only time I’ve ever noticed it,” she said.
Katie’s not the only person to have noticed the symbol being used in such a way.
Users in West Covina, California; London, England; and elsewhere have tweeted about seeing swastikas as an icon for hotel locations.
Swastikas have been in existence for thousands of years; a variation of the symbol became a ubiquitous feature of Nazi symbolism and an emblem of Aryan race identity, racism, and anti-Semitism. However, the symbol has far more positive messaging in many ancient religions from the cultures of Eurasia, standing for things like divinity and spirituality. Prior to the Nazis appropriating the symbol in the 1930s, it long meant “good luck” in the Western world.
It’s for this reason that Google Maps allowed users to search “points of interest” via the swastika icon. Google told HuffPost that the image seen on users’ Maps app is “not a swastika” but rather a “Buddhist symbol of worship.”
Despite their being used as religious icons, Google said that the symbols are being used incorrectly in some places.
“We’re aware that these religious symbols are incorrectly displaying for certain hotels, and are working on a fix to restore the correct hotel icon to these places,” said a spokesperson for the organization in an email to HuffPost.