Thanks Google but we'll pixelate ourselves

Three kibbutzniks deliberately pixelated their faces when Google Street View came to their kibbutz.

November 6, 2014 16:36
2 minute read.
Google street view

Hiding from Google street view. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)


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Self-pixelated faces of kibbutzniks in the North have recently been uploaded to Google Maps, two years after three Israelis staged a pose for Google's Street View van.

To minimize the invasion of privacy, Google automatically blurs faces of people who are caught on camera on its Street View photographing project.

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The faces of Israelis Ben Kol, Niv Medlinger and a third friend who asked not to be named, are pixelated in the Google Street View of their residence in Kibbutz Yagur. But in their case, Google didn't need to blur their faces: the three amigos faced its camera with their faces hidden behind masks, which depicted their self-pixelated photos.

"Since we live in a kibbutz, Google contacted the kibbutz before coming to photograph it for Google Street View," Kol said. "There was a bill posted saying they were going to scan the kibbutz - you know, we're rural, we need an advance alert so we don't panic," he joked. "I contacted the person in charge; he told me roughly what their route is and when they're coming."

Kol then turned to Facebook to consult friends. His friend Shelly Duvilanski suggested: "Make a pixelated photo of your face, print it and wear it around as a mask." Kol accepted the idea, and together with his friends took the pictures, pixelated them and made them into masks.

On the appointed day they stood where the Street View vehicle was planned to drive through and raised the masks to their faces.
"The real reason was for fun, we wanted to do something special," Kol said.  "She smiled," Kol noted of the tricycle-riding photographer who showed up.

Now, two years later, Google has uploaded the photos to Google Street View. "Basically we have a kind of a protest against the penetration of privacy with Google Street View. There was a story recently of a woman with a cleavage who sued Google [for posting her photo to Street View]," Kol explained. 
Kol and his friends are joining a series of residents who welcome Street View cars with spontaneous or planned receptions, whether in protest or in good fun, from raising a middle finger to well-orchestrated performances. In 2010, a couple of Norwegians stalked a Street View car wearing scuba gear, and tried to hunt it down with harpoons. 
In 2008, Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley created Street with a View, a performance in which residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, staged scenes in front of Street View cameras, including a marathon, a parade, a garage band practice, a wedding and a 17th century sword fight.

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