For those who enjoy a good sweep of the Earth with Google Maps every now and again, something about our planet’s surface will look very different next time you use the program on a desktop computer. Instead of seeing a 2D view of the world, scroll out as far as you can and you’ll get the full, 3D globe.
Google Maps announced the globular decision on Twitter with a GIF slowly zooming out from Greenland. Responses to the tweet indicate that the change is for now only visible on desktop computers using Google Chrome.
Why Would Google Maps Change to a 3D Globe View?
Google Maps has always been one to innovate with features like Street View, wheelchair accessible routes, and rainbow roads for Pride Month. There are also a lot of cool hacks for traveling around and using Google Maps as your own personal cartographer. But while the 3D globe view is both fun to experiment with and aesthetically pleasing to look at, there are a few serious reasons why Google might have implemented the change.
They May Be Trying to Put Flat-Earthers to Bed
The theory debunked by Aristotle in 330 BC once existed as a joke revolving around weird celebrity outbursts and the occasional Facebook group before evolving into an alarmingly fast-growing digital movement. At one point, on Google Translate, the French translation for “I am a flat-earther” was “I’m a crazy person,” although Google tells Inverse that wasn’t intentional.
It’s certainly within the interest of the world’s largest search engine to encourage scientific thought over pseudo-scientific conspiracy theories. Inverse reached out to Google to seek clarification on the reasoning behind the change but did not immediately hear back.
Another issue Google Maps cited in its tweet was the inaccuracy in proportion between different countries when its world map was still 2D. Greenland, the country it chose to spotlight, used to look on par with Africa’s size. That, obviously, was misleading because Africa is 14 times larger than Greenland, which is significantly clearer on the new Google Maps view.
Additionally, it’s way easier to conceptualize how the real Earth actually looks in space – helping the world’s internet users understand their inconsequentiality in the grand scheme of things. So, Flat Earthers beware — Google Maps will no longer aid your cause.