A project by campaigning organization "Reporters Without Borders" that put messages criticizing world leaders on billboards that appeared on Google Street View has had the images removed by the tech company.
Earlier this week, people browsing Moscow's Red Square via Street View on maps.google.se would have seen a huge black-and-white billboard right next to St Basil's Cathedral stating: "Being gay is normal."
The quote is from an interview with a school teacher who stated "homosexuality is normal" in Russian newspaper Molodai Dalnevostochnik. Editor Alexander Suturin was fined by Russia's Federal Mass Media Inspection Service for breaking a law that bans "gay propaganda" among minors.
The billboard wasn't there in real life, however. The posters are by the Swedish arm of Reporters Without Borders, which digitally altered Street View in cities around the world. It worked with agency Akestam Holst on the campaign, which promotes freedom of speech.
Now, they have been taken down by Google in a move that Jonathan Lundqvist, president of Reporters Without Borders Sweden, said amounts to censorship.
"We find it ironic that a campaign on free speech has been silenced so quickly. And we have officially received information that the campaign has been shut down because it violates Google Map's policies," he wrote in an email to CNBC on Thursday.
"That's the thing about censorship, it doesn't call itself censorship, or may even not be intended as one. But the consequences remain the same, important voices for free speech have been silenced in the places where they are needed the most."