Google Blogoscoped

Friday, August 24, 2007

Remove Faces From Google Street View

Want to get a face removed in Google Maps Street View? Now you can, even if it’s not you who’s been photographed. According to CNet’s Elinor Mills, Google changed the policy for their street view photographs to better protect privacy and clarify “the intent of the product” (looking at houses and stuff, not people!).

To request a recognizable face to be removed – no questions asked, as Google implies – it’s probably enough to click on the “Street View Help” link at the top right of a photograph, and select “Report inappropriate image.” Same is true for license plates in Street View now. I just asked for this guy pictured above to be removed to see if this really works, and will report how it goes.

Now, unlike a change in, say, a wiki, this removal of a face (which removes the whole photograph, instead of just blurring a single face, though Marissa Mayer argued it won’t really be noticeable) probably can’t be undone by the next user who wants to get a clear view. Which means unlike a wiki, this system isn’t self-correcting. Then again, if indeed more and more faces become blurred over time, Google might be able to just map a city anew with their cam-cars fleet. If they really wanted to get rid of faces, they might as well employ one of their face-detection algorithms.


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