What would you do if you saw the body of a girl lying on the sidewalk as you nosed your way around Google’s Street View? Would you immediately decide it’s a prank, laugh, and then share the pictures with your friends?!
Or would you – like the socially responsible residents of Middle Road, Worcester, U.K. – scream, then contact Google and that continual powerhouse of media activity, your local newspaper? According to the Daily Mail (UK), what these residents saw was not the dead body of a 10-year-old girl, but the playing-dead body of that girl.
It’s a suburban scene much like millions of others on Google’s Street View apart a dead body of a young girl lying face down on the pavement with her shoe inches away in the gutter. Worried residents browsing their on-screen neighbourhood contacted Google about the image fearing they had chanced on a murder scene.
But rather than being a crime scene, the images turned out to just be ten-year-old Azura Beebeejaun who has revealed she was ‘playing dead’ as a prank outside her home in Middle Road, Worcester. Her innocent game just happened to coincide with the arrival of a Google Street View car to record the images of the road.
She said: “I didn’t know anything about the Google Street View car (recording me). I fell over while I was playing with my friend and thought it would be funny to play dead. I’m quite chuffed I’m on the internet. It is quite funny and I can’t wait to tell my classmates when I go back to school.”
Her mother, Saira, 43, said she was amused the image had caused such a fuss among her neighbours. The picture was taken last summer and published online in March as part of the Street View’s effort to photograph every street in country using cars fitted with roof mounted panoramic cameras.
The service offers 360-degree views of streets, allowing users to take a virtual tour of a neighbourhood. Mrs Beebeejaun, a youth worker, said: “I understand how some people might have thought the picture looked like a dead body – I just wish she was that quiet all the time.”
“A couple of people on the road have mentioned to me a few weeks ago that they had seen a picture of a girl lying on the floor on our street. I assumed it was my daughter because she is always playing around on the pavement outside. But I never really thought one picture would cause such a commotion,” she added.
A spokesman for Google said the firm cannot comment on individual images but explained how people can remove pictures which they are not happy with. She said: “The imagery in Street View represents a snapshot in time of Britain’s streets and is no different to what anyone might expect to see for themselves around the country.”
“Sometimes that means our cars inadvertently capture odd or inappropriate moments as they drive past. This is why we have put in place tools so that if people see what they believe to be inappropriate, they can report them to us using the simple reporting tool and the images will be quickly removed or further blurring applied,” she added.
Last year Google was forced to remove hundreds of photographs from Street View after British users complained about invasion of privacy. In one village, Broughton in Buckinghamshire, villagers formed a human shield to prevent a Street View car mapping their streets and filming their houses amid fears the service could be used as an aide by burglars.
The service is also under investigation in Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Canada and America after Street View cars collected private data sent from the unprotected home wi-fi connections.
It emerged as a result of the German inquiry that Street View’s specially adapted cars have also mapped wireless internet connections in homes around the world to help it sell adverts, using the signals which spill from inside homes on to the street.
The information lets Google send mobile phone users adverts for nearby restaurants, shops and other services through its Google Maps application, collecting a fee every time a user clicks on an advert. [via Daily Mail (UK) and Huffington Post]