Blurring or removing map data to prevent people from seeing something important or sensitive is a pretty loud signal that there’s something important or sensitive to see there. Some five million Baidu Maps tiles were masked in Xinjiang alone—there’s a lot the Chinese government considers sensitive—which made the unmasking considerably harder. But not impossible.
The New York Times maps “the geography of American incarceration,” in an investigative piece that includes an interactive map showing prison admissions per county. They’ve diverged sharply in recent years: less populous, more rural, more conservative counties are doubling down on being tough on crime.
Just a decade ago, people in rural, suburban and urban areas were all about equally likely to go to prison. But now people in small counties are about 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties.
They’re also more likely to get much stiffer sentences—something the map is not able to track.