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Why you think you’re seeing swastika pins in Google Maps

Some Google Maps users are making a confusing and troubling discovery when opening the app.

In some cases, users reported that they’re seeing the swastika symbol on some locations, in particular hotels, when opening up Google Maps, according to tweets.

Twitter user @irishkokolily asked the Google Maps Twitter account, “can you tell me why the hotels in Dublin on my Google maps has swastika signs for them?” A screenshot attached to the tweet shows two Dublin hotels, The Merchant House and Kelly’s Hotel, marked with a pin displaying the symbol in question, which resembles a swastika.

Twitter user @WizzyDizzymite shared a similar experience. According to the tweet, Google Maps also displayed the symbol to mark Walnut Inn & Suites in West Covina, California. There have been a few additional sightings at hotels in other cities, including London, as well.

However, this isn’t the work of a . The image that users are mistaking for a Nazi symbol is actually an . The icon’s intended purpose in the app is to mark Buddhist temples in certain countries where the symbol is still regarded as a sacred religious symbol. 

Google lists the symbol as an official Google Maps icon for Buddhist temples.

The usage of the religious symbol as a Google Maps icon has previously caused confusion. Some , unfamiliar with its spiritual usage, have why the swastika is included in the app. In the past Google has restricted the use of the symbol in Google Maps to countries like Japan, where there is more widespread understanding of its historical and religious context.

It’s unclear if that restriction still holds, but Mashable staffers were unable to replicate any of the appearances of the symbol on hotels noted by the tweets, or find the symbol in general use to designate Bhuddist religious buildings. Our checks were made in the U.S., so if the symbol is only generally available in other countries, that would explain its absence.

In a statement to Mashable, Google tells us that they are working on fixing a glitch mistakingly marking hotels on its Maps app with the Buddhist temple icon. 

“This image is not a swastika, but a Buddhist symbol of worship,” said a company spokesperson in an emailed statement. “We’re aware that these religious symbols are incorrectly displaying for certain hotels in Dublin and are working on a fix to restore the correct hotel icon to these places.”

The spiritual symbol that resembles a swastika in reverse orientation has long been used in Buddhism, Hinduism, as well as other religions. It looks slightly different compared to the angled swastika the Nazis adopted in the early 20th century, but the general symbol had been used in various contexts for thousands of years beforehand. While Google Maps clearly uses the religious symbol, the Nazis’ “stolen” version of the swastika is often invoked in the minds of many in the U.S. and Europe when seeing it.

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