Help! Google thinks I’m in Hong Kong

Screenshot 2015-03-18 11.32.31I live and work in Cleveland, Ohio. I like it here.

There’s a lot going on. We got LeBron James back. We’ve got a great food scene going on right now with chefs like Michael Symon and Jonathan Sawyer. The Republican National Convention is being held here next summer. Things are happening here.

Here’s the problem: Google seems to think I live in Hong Kong.




Last week, I was using my default browser, Google Chrome, and used the omnibox to search for something. Imagine my surprise when the results page was all in Chinese. A quick look determined that the search was defaulting to google.com.hk.

That’s weird. I typed in Google.com and was taken to Google.com.hk. Even my search settings in the omnibox were changed to google.com.hk.

Screenshot 2015-03-18 14.50.30

I tried Safari and Firefox. Same result. Google keeps thinking I’m in Hong Kong. I’ve never been to Hong Kong. I’d like to check it out, sure, but I’m not there now.

I googled to see if others were having the problem, and several sites said to change the search settings in the omnibox preferences. While that’s fine, Google should know where I am. I re-installed Chrome. Hong Kong. I changed to DuckDuckGo in Safari then back to Google. Hong Kong.

Today, I noticed that even YouTube had gotten in on the game, putting me in YouTube HK, from both my personal and University accounts.

Screenshot 2015-03-18 11.26.16

Here are two tips I’ve found to help alleviate this problem, but I’d prefer Google see my IP and where I am.

Tip 1 – use Google.com/ncr (no country redirect). That will reset cookies and has temporarily put me back in the USA.

Tip 2 – Use Google’s IP problem form to report the issue. I have done this today but Google says it may take up to a month to fix.

15 comments

  1. Thought I was the only one experiencing this problem. Thank you so much for this! I even had some user named Pickles on my Chrome user list thingy.

  2. Hey Mike,
    Did the problem resolve?
    I’m having the same problem with google thinking I’m Pakistan! I live in Toronto, Canada.
    About 3 weeks ago I emailed google about the issue and to fix my ip, but no change yet.
    Thanks

  3. I encountered the same problem after returning from Norway to HK, Google still think I am still in Norway when I use my desktop PC at home (without GPS, no wifi etc – so only IP addr). http://www.where-am-i.net/ shows my location in Norway using Chrome, but IE shows the correct location in HK. No help using handphone to sign-in, though Location History will report correctly my location by saying it was from my handphone. Any solution please?

  4. Just started happening here, 11-20-15. I’m in California which is still in the USA, at least the last time I looked, but http://www.google.com goes the Hong Kong site.

    And Gmail keeps telling me I’m trying to log in from an “unusual location” and forces me to enter a phone number for an automated call-back with a temp password.

    Who got hacked…?

  5. I too began experiencing that out-of-body experience and found myself in Hong Kong. I poked around as most of you did but couldn’t find a solution. Then it occurred to me to deactivate my VPN. I executed a search and was back home. I activated my VPN, conducted a search and was still at home. Hope that sticks and was helpful to others.

    1. Hi Jenny:

      Most Likely. I was also receiving warning messages from eg. Twitter and LinkedIn, that I was trying to login from “elsewhere” and asking me to confirm. That’s when it struck me that my VPN wasn’t restricting who my location is being masked from .

      However, I find that it’s a bit inconsistent. Sometimes, it depends on where ie. which application, Google is tapping into, to determine your location. None-the-less, I think that if you disconnect your VPN, perform your “search” and then reconnect, your TRUE location will stick, for the near future.

      All the best,
      Miguel

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