Google Says It’s Working On Removing Image Of Man’s Slain Son From Maps

Anyone who’s ever used Google Maps has likely searched for their own address, where they grew up or other important spots, just to see what image of the place Google has captured. But unfortunately for a man whose teen son was killed in 2009 in Richmond, Calif., it appears the image of his son’s body is shown at the spot where he was found.

Since he first learned of the image’s presence, the 14-year-old shooting victim’s father brought his concern to the media, telling KTVU.com he didn’t want Google to show the disturbing snapshot out of respect. The teen’s slaying remains unsolved.

“When I see this image, that’s still like that happened yesterday,” his father said. “And that brings me back to a lot of memories.”

After the station ran the story about the offending image, Google called KTVU to work with the man and let him know they’d be working on removing the picture.

The vice president of Google Maps says that although images are usually on the site for one to three years and removing them rarely happens, the company was willing to make an exception to get the satellite image removed as soon as possible.

“Our hearts go out to the family of this young boy. Since the media first contacted us about the image, we’ve been looking at different technical solutions,” said the statement from Brian McClendon. “Google has never accelerated the replacement of updated satellite imagery from our maps before, but given the circumstances we wanted to make an exception in this case.”

The image should be replaced with a new one within eight days, which means as early as next Tuesday.

Although Google has apologized, the father wants more from the company.

“Sorry is not all. Just to say sorry? It affects my whole family,” he said. “They need to be more careful when they publish in the future.”

Yes, making sure there are no murder scenes on the map seems like it should be a high priority, so better start working on that, guys.

Google says its working to remove image of slain teen [KTVU.com]

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  1. CommonC3nts says:

    Im sorry but google should not censor anything for any reason that is in the public domain.
    This family is so wrong for wanting google to edit their satellite images.
    It is pathetic that this family is mad at google for anything.

    • Cara says:

      I’m not sure if I agree. My understanding is that Google already has a system in place to filter out humans, faces, etc, since it could be used for evil if you could spot someone you know and track them down (witness protection program, restraining orders, etc).

      I think Google is doing the right thing in this case. I don’t think there’s any grounds for a lawsuit, though.

    • Xenotaku says:

      I agree with Cara. This should never have been published in the first place, since they’re supposed to not show people, and a dead body is incredibly disrespectful to the family, at the very least. They’re right for removing it.

      That being said, with how many millions of satellite images they have, one can’t expect every one to be inspected by a person, so any lawsuit is ridiculous.

      Also, I’m fairly certain a crime scene is not considered “public domain”, and neither are the proprietary satellite images that Google takes. So there’s no “censoring” of public domain going on.

  2. lmbrown says:

    I’ve looked at the image on 2 different sites and frankly can’t see anybody or anything in any type of detail. If I just saw that while in Google maps it would never occur to me that I was looking at a dead body. I feel sorry for the boy’s parents but … seriously … had they not started this fuss I’m pretty sure no one would realize what they were seeing.

  3. furiousd says:

    “When I see this image…”? Why does he keep searching for it? I’m sure similar memories are brought back by the pictures of his son in the family’s home. You’d have to be looking to find that: http://i.imgur.com/a4JfIPr.jpg and it’s only from context that it’s clear what’s going on. No personally-identifiable facial features, no violation of privacy.

    While I do think it’s reasonable for Google to make edits for things like this when they’re alerted to it being there, his comment of “Sorry is not all. Just to say sorry?” is odd. Certainly I wouldn’t want that to be there, but as an computer vision researcher I know that trying to write an algorithm that would pick up on what’s going on in that scene is preposterously impossible without a 98% false positive rate.

    TL;DR
    Google having a policy of removing things like this when alerted to its existence: good.
    Person having a conniption when a company doesn’t proactively pay someone to go through and find things like this to remove just in case it might contain something that might upset someone: silly.

  4. PhillyDom says:

    I sympathized with the father … until he said Google’s apology wasn’t enough. Google’s going out of its way to accommodate him, and it’s not enough? He’s turned whatever Google does for him into more than he deserves.