Too Prawnographic: Why Did Google Street View Blur The Face Of Ballina's Big Prawn?

Image: Google Street View

It's no secret that Google, either by hand or algorithm, blurs images from its Street View cameras. Sure, I can understand softening a license plate or someone's face for privacy reasons but, holy heck, did Google have to go and censor the mug of Ballina's Big Prawn?

Reddit user "greggobbard" posted a comparison image yesterday on /r/australia, showing Google's defiling of one of Australia's more crustaceous Big Things. Naturally, I was sceptical, so I decided to check it out myself.

Access Denied! 18 Places Google Maps Won't Let You See

Google has always tried to keep a very open policy with the general public, but it can't always be entirely forthcoming, as is the case with Google Maps. Google has very little say in what gets censored and what doesn't, be it for personal privacy or national security.

Read more

When I saw that the "default" perspective provided by Street View was utterly fine, I started to have my doubts. However, after a short virtual drive, I was able to find a few places where, indeed, BG's poor face was rubbed out.

Go back a few paces however and the prawn is fine.

My guess is that Google's face-blurring algorithm has done a number on our oversized friend and no one's bothered to report it. What rocks this theory is that various other Big Things appear unscathed.

For example, Dadswells Bridge's Big Koala and the Big Merino in Goulburn are smudge-free.

So, what's going on? I have no idea. A mistake by an automated system is still a possibility, but I'd like to believe someone at Google has it out for Ballina's claim to Big Things fame. Perhaps a prawn got the best of an eager Google fisherman and they've since dedicated their life to exterminating every single one of them — including giant fake ones.

In the end, it's all speculation. Hopefully the folks at the big G can clue us in.

PS. Props to Kwindecent_exposure for the amazing pun in the headline.

[Google Maps, via Reddit]

Trending Stories Right Now