But why doesn't the same thing happen with a bus full of people on phones?
A Berlin-based artist tricked Google Maps into thinking there was a traffic jam by using a handcart full of phones.
Simon Weckert named his piece Google Maps Hacks and posted a video to YouTube on Monday, showing a man pulling a red wagon filled with 99 Android smart phones through the main streets of Berlin, which included rolling past the Google offices.
The phones -- each with its own SIM card and using Google Maps during the experiment -- pinged their location and movement back to Google servers, which then depicted the street as lighting up in red on the app, indicating traffic had slowed to a crawl.
"Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red, which has an impact in the physical world by navigating cars on another route to avoid being stuck in traffic," Weckert wrote in a statement.
Weckert wanted to display how we rely on data to predict our reality.
"Do these maps function as dispositive nets that determine the behaviour, opinions and images of living beings, exercising power and controlling knowledge?" he asked.
He said he also wanted to highlight the blind trust the public puts in technology and apps, where people "tend to see them as objective ... thus data are viewed as the world itself, forgetting that the numbers are only representing a model of the world."
"There is no such thing as neutral data. Data is always collected for a specific purpose, by a combination of people, technology, money, commerce, and government," Weckert said in an email to Business Insider.
The same outcome does not happen with a bus full of people on phones, due in part to the bus being recognized through geofencing, which is described as "cross-referencing geolocation data with the services at that location, and issuing notifications to a device on that basis," according to CityMetric.
The event took place last summer, but the video was posted this week in honor of the 15th anniversary of Google Maps.
And the company took the art hoax in stride as a representative released this statement:
"We've launched the ability to distinguish between cars and motorcycles in several countries including India, Indonesia and Egypt, though we haven't quite cracked traveling by wagon. We appreciate seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this as it helps us make maps work better over time."