April 20th saw Maps and Navigator become an online battleground as users marked themselves as being in locations they were not, thus staging artificial “online” rallies.
Residents of Rostov place their locations close to their regional government building, with messaging against the policy that those losing their jobs due to self-isolation will not receive any social assistance.
Taking inspiration from the virtual rallies against the policies seemingly not offering assistance to those impacted through self-isolation, similar virtual rallies took place across Maps and Navigator in the cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Saratov, Ufa, Cheboksary, Voronezh, and Kazan.
In connection to these Yandex products being used to make political statements, Yandex have been questioned as to whether or not they will police the conversations, or close them down.
The company officially announced that they would not close the conversation element, as it is considered an integral part of the Navigator product and provides valuable information for drivers to successfully navigate.
From Yandex’s statement:
At the same time, we would like to recall that the“ conversations ”, like other marks on the map, are designed to inform users about the current traffic situation. The company will continue to improve conversational algorithms and develop the service so that it further helps users who are in close proximity to each other on the road. The service will automatically limit messages that are not published at the point where the user is located, as this contradicts the essence of the service of joint discussion of the traffic situation.
Yandex also emphasized that the company continues to follow the principle of tolerance regarding the political views of each of its users. But Yandex.Navigator and Yandex.Maps cannot be a platform for expressing these views. These are information services that help millions of drivers and pedestrians choose the best route. And they should always remain so.