“I see dead people,” declared Haley Joel Osment’s famous character in the 1999 film The sixth Sense. Now, 20 years later, users of Google Street View they are quoting Osment; they also see dead people – dead people they know and relate to – captured forever (or at least for now) on Google Maps.
Heart touching? Creepy? Touching and scary?
First, let’s go back. Google Street View was launched in 2007, and the premise was to map the world.
Spoiler alert: the world is a big place – so some neighborhoods or areas are only mapped once. A Google car travels through areas and captures panoramic photos that are then joined. Therefore, everything that is captured when the Google Street View car travels through a specific area is often cemented in the pictorial history of Street View – a time capsule of that specific instance, a defining moment on Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Google map, if you prefer.
In 2008, Google added face blur technology, which uses a computer algorithm to search for faces in Google’s image database and blur them. Therefore, anyone captured on Google Street View has a blurred face.
Sometimes people wave in the Google Street View car as it passes. And sometimes those people who wave, after being photographed, end up dying. (Not because they were photographed.) Thus, there have been countless instances of people finding their loved ones deceased in these Street View images, with blurry faces.
And then, you have an embarrassing situation like this, in which Google Maps users see your grandfather dead and with a blurred face: “My grandfather passed away a few years ago. We couldn’t say goodbye to him. Yesterday we discovered that Google Maps finally passed his farm and, as we were curious, where the road ends, there is my grandfather, sitting there. “
My grandfather passed away a few years ago. We couldn’t say goodbye to him. Yesterday we discovered that Google Maps finally passed his farm and, as we were curious, where the road ends, there is my grandfather, sitting there. 😭 pic.twitter.com/CbwRTkCKrZ
– yajaira (@yajairalyb) January 7, 2020
This particular tweet was the catalyst for people to access Google Maps and search for the addresses of deceased people they knew – parents, grandparents, friends, enemies (you understand) … And some of these deceased people were incorporated into Google Maps by years, without the knowledge, so far, of their loved ones.
Their findings were shared on a Twitter topic. And, as the topic confirmed, people spotted dead relatives everywhere. (Archived Buzzfeed the most successful package of that.)
The Twitter topic contained not just one or two people making these Google map sightings after death, but dozens and dozens. Loved ones were seen washing cars, sitting on porches, waving, not waving, not sitting on porches, walking, etc.
And the inclusion of Google’s blurry-faced technology adds a macabre and frightening quality to any case.
And it wasn’t just limited to deceased friends and family; deceased pets were also seen (and the animals’ faces were not blurred).
It’s kind of scary. And the conclusion? Sometimes, dead people are captured on Google Street View and grandparents / pets don’t live forever.
In the past, Google Map users speculated that they had captured ongoing murders, which launched a tsunami of conspiracy theories on Reddit.
In 2019, Google Earth helped to solve a 22-year-old missing man caseWhen a car was seen under the water’s surface in Florida.
Google provides a map of upcoming locations where the Street View car will take pictures. Does that mean you now have a chance to immortalize your family’s pet on Google Maps – or is that thought too macabre?
Again, there is also a strange aspect of Big Brother in all of this; none of these people had the option to opt out of being photographed by Google and, you know, potentially disturbing relatives for years to come.
But that’s what happens when a big tech company wants to photograph the entire planet – and no one, dead or alive, has a choice.