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Google Maps hit with White House racial slur vandalism

The search giant has been embarrassed by recent stunts targeting Google Maps, reminiscent of "Google Hacks" designed to change search results to make political statements.

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Google Maps was vandalized to associate a racial slur with the White House. Screenshot/CNET

Racism exists everywhere on the Internet, and apparently Google Maps is no exception.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that if you surf to Google Maps, focus it on a map of Washington, D.C. and type "n------ house" into the search bar, the map takes you to the White House. It also associates that search with Nairobi, Kenya.

"Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologize for any offense this may have caused," a Google spokeswoman said. "Our teams are working to fix this issue quickly." As of this writing, Google hasn't removed the results from its service.

It's unclear how this happened. People can suggest changes to Google Maps with its Map Maker software, which the company offers to users to help it keep maps up to date. But because of a number of recent acts of vandalism, the search giant earlier this month decided to suspend use of the software while it makes the moderation features "more robust." Google said it would give an update to the status of the software by May 27, a little more than a week from now.

Last week, people discovered a portion of a map in Pakistan was manipulated to show an Android robot -- the mascot for Google's mobile operating system -- urinating on an Apple logo, all depicted with the map's various landmark coloring features. Another prankster labeled the White House as NSA leaker Edward Snowden's lair.

Google Maps isn't the only product to draw this type of attention. Google's other products have been used as the platforms for pranks and political protest as well. In 2003, after then-Sen. Rick Santorum made some anti-gay comments, sex blogger Dan Savage held a contest to see who could create the best fictional definition for the word "Santorum." The sexually explicit definition rose to the top of Google searches.