25 Mar 2010 11 pm eastern

Blur

Presumably in order to avoid having to pay the child model and secure a release, Google deliberately blurred the Gap Kid model’s face on the giant outdoor Gap Kids poster before uploading this photo (and hundreds of seamlessly interwoven related photos) to Google Maps Street View.

It’s hard to say if the human beings on the street have had their features blurred as well.

Does Google go to this kind of trouble with every poster on every block of every city in the world? They must.

I bet their arms get tired.

Related: Recently, some friends and I have noticed news photos, and TV news video, where people’s faces are perfectly clear, but corporate logos have been deliberately blurred or pixelated. This is the world we live in.

Google Maps Street View blurs model’s face in poster

Filed under: Advertising, Google, privacy

26 Responses to “Blur”

  1. Hugh Guiney said on

    Actually, Google supposedly has an automated face-blurring algorithm that they developed in response to privacy concerns. So it could be that the program simply detected the model’s face and blurred it out, while the pedestrians’ faces are either so far away that the program didn’t pick them up, or they’re so far away that it’s hard to see that they are blurred—which after giving it a closer look on Flickr, I think may be the case.

  2. Ross Floate said on

    We couldn’t afford a model for a small campaign I did for one of our clients so my face appears on their posters inside their stores. The Google Cam car drove past and looked in through the windows, picking up the posters. My face is blurred, but the rest of the image is not. I think here, it’s totally automated (Australia).

  3. Apurva said on

    Everyone’s face in the Singapore Google Street View is blurred (posters and normal folks on the street too). I guess they have a lot of people working on this. ;)

  4. Luke Dorny said on

    Perhaps it should develop an algorithm that lobbies for sponsorship deals from corporations on a city-by-city level to allow logos to show through in street-view.
    …else(blur);
    Google is, after all, all about advertising.

  5. Joel D said on

    The people on the street look fuzzy-faced too when you zoom in on them. I’m sure the 3rd world country worker bees that hold the fuzzy face wand treat us all the same. I saw a Google mobile go by my house last summer, I’ve been hoping to see my fuzzy face on maps.google

    Could that model still get compensation if they claimed GAP did a product placement ad with Google?

  6. Chris said on

    It’s all automated. Even some things that are not faces, but have the appearance of eyes and a nose have been blurred. They don’t have a team of “face-blurring elves”.

  7. Matt J said on

    In the UK at least Google also automatically blurs number plates (and things that look a bit like number plates) as well as faces.

  8. Jason said on

    The aliens won’t know what to do when they finally arrive and find out we don’t all look the same.

  9. Rick said on

    Their algorithm blurs car wheels a lot too. I just hit street view on my block (a city street), and every other car has at least one blurred wheel.

  10. Chris B said on

    Google automatically blurs our faces and license plates.

    maps.google.com/help/maps/streetview/privacy.html

  11. Mike Wrenn said on

    Regarding “Related”, Japanese news broadcasting is truly warped. At the scene of an incident, the news caster on the street might be the only visible thing. Everything else would be pixelated. They show the victim’s face in a picture, but blur the suspect’s. Seriously, a picture of the suspect, on the TV, and it’s completely blurred out. And they are equally ridiculous about brands, labels, anything that could be thought of as advertising.

  12. James said on

    It’s the world Americans live in. Face blurring and corporate logo blurring – so much effort and all in the name of paranoia.

  13. Michael said on

    Common sense would be that images taken in public are a non issue. I especially don’t get how marketing tools like ads and logos would need or require protection. Lawers guns and money…

  14. Tomi said on

    In Finland we have statues blurred too. Kinda weird, but I guess the algorithm can’t really tell the difference if it is a real person, statue or a picture of a person.

  15. Rick said on

    @Michael Yeah, people in public are fair game, but aren’t there laws against using someone’s likeness in advertising? Google is planning to insert ads into street view, covering real-world billboards with updated, paid ads, for example. Seems like a bit of a stretch, but maybe those two things together is enough to get sued.

  16. Bramus! said on

    That actually is automated. See http://franck.fleurey.free.fr/FaceDetection/ for example - or - Are we urgently in need of a <sarc> tag?

  17. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Common sense would be that images taken in public are a non issue. I especially don’t get how marketing tools like ads and logos would need or require protection. Lawers guns and money…

    Precisely. It’s a real head scratcher. Almost makes you wonder if the TV stations are blurring corporate logos in the news because the corporation behind the logo didn’t pay for product placement.

  18. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Regarding “Related”, Japanese news broadcasting is truly warped. At the scene of an incident, the news caster on the street might be the only visible thing. Everything else would be pixelated.

    Wow. Crazy. Thank you for sharing that.

  19. Michael Critz said on

    Forgive me if this is straying too far off-topic.

    I worked in various TV art departments for more than a decade. I can say with certainty that American TV news is strongly protected by the free press line in the first amendment. They can show whatever they’d like: logos, faces, artwork, sports video (the type that cannot be rebroadcast without the specific written permission of the league), even use copyright-protected music as long as the content is relevant to the news story.

    However, newsrooms often have their own standards, often self-imposed. For instance, we almost never hear about suicides. Also, there is no legal reason why news outlets couldn’t show caskets of US soldiers nor those injured or dead on the battleground. It’s just a policy almost all news outlets seem to stick to. I have no idea why.

  20. Flooey said on

    Yeah, all the face blurring is automated, so it blurred the billboard because it had a face.

    I’m pretty sure that Google isn’t doing it because they’re legally required to, I think they’re just doing it because people prefer not to show up in the pictures. I know it’s weird for a company to actually listen to people, but one should still admit it as a possibility :)

  21. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Thank you, Michael Critz.

  22. sammyJenkins said on

    No, its a conspiracy to make you feel like you have some semblance of privacy.

    In order to deal without privacy I have to change, and I tell myself that I am open, my life is just a sequence of events, perhaps meaningful, perhaps not, but ultimately, the experience of who I am is in my head. External perceptions must become meaningless to me or I will be overwhelmed by them.

    Now I have excluded the world from myself because my perception of the world is marked by human weakness, and the world is inhospitable to human weakness. Then, in a moment of clarity, I realize that in excluding myself from perception, I have changed perceiving. For a moment, my objective glance at the world reveals its temporal nature, its many facades. What is there now?

  23. Tantek said on

    It is not all automated.

    For example, look at this fine Photoshop craftsmanship by someone looking to hide apparently deeply offending instances of low-cut tops:

    http://gss.st/xB

    Except they forgot the mirror image.

    Compare woman on sidewalk vs her reflection in the window.

    Originally posted here: http://tantek.com/2010/048/t3/google-street-view-censoring

  24. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    For example, look at this fine Photoshop craftsmanship by someone looking to hide apparently deeply offending instances of low-cut tops:

    Holy cow! That’s nuts.

  25. Bob said on

    Or maybe it’s the world you live in. Commerce is really not a culture. As much as the talking heads talk, I still can’t walk around with a T.V. remote control and change people’s channels, or advertisements inside train cars. The saddest part about branding is people have been fooled to consume and advertise for other businesses for no compensation. I’m not tearing off labels on bottles of water because I want to advertise an oxygen compound; Crystal Geyser needs to re-inverse me for the advertising space is my fridge.

  26. Stephanie said on

    The reason TV news shows and newspapers alike don’t report suicides it’s because they fear copycat behavior. It’s apparently been proven that reporting suicides brings a massive wave of copycat suicides happening on that location and this is what they’re trying to prevent (for instance, some unhappy people might think the only way to be ‘famous’ and on the news is by killing themselves – think school shootings but in your own home).

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