The relatives frozen in time on Google Street View

By Zoe Kleinman
Technology reporter

  • Published
Google Maps logo with silhouettesImage source, Getty Images

Social-media users are sharing Google Street View images featuring friends and relatives who have since died.

It was sparked by a post on the Twitter account Fesshole, which asks followers to submit anonymous confessions - many of which are explicit.

The original poster said they had searched the map platform for images taken before their father had died.

Launched in the US in 2007, Google Street View has since rolled out worldwide.

The BBC's Neil Henderson shared an image of his late father at his front door.

"I have literally hundreds of pics of my dad but the Google Street View is quite affecting, like he's still around," he wrote.

Another tweeter showed an image of a couple holding hands in the street - his parents, he said, who had died several years ago.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

One captured a lady just outside her doorway. "My mum creeping outside for a cigarette," wrote Bernard Baker.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Others said just seeing local images taken when their loved ones were still alive made them feel a connection.

And some expressed regret images poignant to them had been replaced with more recent photos.

There is, however, a way to look back at previous incarnations - by tapping the clock icon on the top left-hand side of Google Maps (the feature does not appear on Google Earth), if it is there.

Karim Palant used this tool to find a former image of his late grandfather Charles Palant, taken from the street in 2015 and showing him leaning out of his window from his apartment in Paris to talk to his carer below.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Charles Palant, above, talking to his carer who is in the street

Charles Palant died a few months later.

"He was in that flat for maybe 70 years, and I spent loads of happy times there," Karim said.

Karim added that his grandfather was having computer lessons while aged in his 90s, but he doesn't believe he had seen Google Street View, and the family only became aware of the photograph after his death.

"It's such a sunny day in the photo and he looks so relaxed, it just reminds me of a happy time and place," he said.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Neil Henderson's late father, photographed at his front door

Searching through Google Street View for strange objects or bizarre moments captured in freezeframe has become something of a niche internet pastime.

On TikTok alone, there are more than 660 million videos tagged with the website and many popular accounts showing videos of weird things found on the site.

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