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The experimental feature showed how many calories a user would lose if they walked to their destination. The calorie count appeared just under the estimated trip duration while the step-by-step directions included how many “mini cupcakes” (about 125 calories) you’d burn by walking. It did not clarify how or why that information was determined.
Google was likely attempting to encourage people to walk, but its misguided execution led to accusations of shaming and even triggering those with eating disorders. Claire Mysko, chief executive of the National Eating Disorder Association, told the New York Times that calorie counts can become a “point of obsession” and be damaging for those with eating disorders.
Many users pointed out that there was no way to turn the feature off.
I truly can’t wrap my head around how thoughtless and reckless this is as an automatic feature!! Especially with no intuitive way to opt out— Anne Richard (@anneoclock) October 14, 2017
Do they realize how extremely triggering something like this is for ppl who have had eating disorders? Not to mention just generally shamey— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) October 17, 2017
Others thought its unexplained use of pink mini cupcakes was aimed at women and shamed them for eating snack foods.
it’s almost as if google has never heard anything a woman has said in its whole ass life— Casey Johnston (@caseyjohnston) October 17, 2017
@TaylorLorenz It assumes the user eats sweets (not everyone does) or cupcakes (ditto), it assumes your female as cupcake is read as female— Rachel Joy Larris (@RachelLarris) October 17, 2017
Google quickly responded, telling CNET that it would drop the feature after receiving “strong user feedback.” The calorie counter should disappear for the select users who were trialing it once they update their iOS app.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.