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People Find Late Loved Ones on Google Maps

For years, Google Maps has offered Street View. Street View stitches together panoramic camera images to recreate a digital facsimile of the real world that you can explore online. Some people are discovering that if they scroll through the platform long enough and use a time travel feature, they just might find the image of a late loved one captured by one of Google’s cameras. Seemingly saved in Google Maps forever.

One post from UK-based writer Sherri Turner has already racked up tens of thousands of “Likes” on Twitter. She wrote, “I look(ed) at my mum’s old house on Google maps street view, the house where I grew up. It says ‘Image captured May 2009.’ There is a light on in her bedroom. It is still her house, she is still alive, I am still visiting every few months on the train.”

Google says the digital recreation of the physical world is powered by millions of cameras that capture multiple angles. While helping people remember dead family members isn’t really the intended purpose of Google Maps, a spokesperson said it was “heartwarming” that people were using the platform in this way.

But there’s more to the story than viral content. The images are a reminder that many people who show up in Street View don’t know their pictures are being taken, and the deceased have no say in whether or not their image remains on the service.

Google says it has systems in place for blurring out personally identifying information from passersby and license plates in the photos it takes. But clearly, some people can still be identified if a family member knows what they’re looking for. The enduring trend of finding lost loved ones inevitably serves as a reminder that Google plays a major role in documenting our daily lives over time.

Possible Preaching Angle:

1) Family; Resurrection; Second Coming of Christ – People find it comforting that they can see the image of loved ones preserved “forever” digitally. However, believers know that God has preserved not a picture but the souls of their departed loved ones and a great reunion is coming (1 Thess. 4:13-18). 2) Camera; Computers; Surveillance - Some people find these online images comforting, and some find them creepy. But it is a reminder that we can’t expect privacy any longer.

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