It Turns out a Lot of People Visit their Dead Relatives on Google Maps

Last week, the Twitter account Facehole – which posts anonymous confessions of people to judge everyone – posted a tweet that was much sweeter than confessions of people’s marital struggles, misunderstandings and questionable musical tastes. The anonymous tweet came from someone who lost their dad and occasionally go to Google Maps to see him there, so they can walk a bit “into a world where he’s still with me.”

The tweet proved to be surprisingly popular, with many more saying they do the same. “I park my nanny outside the house on Streetview,” another wrote. “I was in my Nancy when the Streetview car passed by and I was surprised to see her peer through the window. Street I can’t see her in Streetview, but I know she’s there, peering. I lost her years ago.” Several people complained that they were doing it, but when Google StreetView Car took an updated photo, the picture of their loved one was removed.

However, Google archives previous Streetview photographs, which means that if your lost loved ones are removed (or dragged to a cat in one of the greatest photobooms of all time), you can access it on Google Maps. Just go down the street you want to see and look at the top left of the screen. If any of the previous photographs are found, you will see a clock icon. Click on it and you will be able to scroll in time to see them again. Since the internet has become a big part of our lives, technology companies had to find ways to deal with what happens when people die using their sites.

In November 2019, Twitter reversed its decision to delete inactive accounts, following statements from many users that they prefer to look back at the tweets of their dead friends and relatives from time to time. In the meantime, Facebook has made it possible for people to keep an account of the deceased person memorable, so that their photos and thoughts are not lost. Google has archives for a number of reasons, and it is not known if they know how they are using Google Maps to see their loved ones or if they know about the appeal. Which one user neatly added:

“My dad is always at home.”