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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Did Google Street View catch woman giving birth? Bizarre photo surfaces, but Google says it's fake

This photo of a woman looking like she had just given birth was thought to be taken by Google

Google Street View's candid images have captured criminals in the act, bizarre nudity, and now a birth.

At least what at first appeared to be a birth.

Images purportedly taken by the roving Google car this week in Germany show a woman lying on a sidewalk, seemingly having just given birth as another person holds up what looks like a newborn.

A man who could be the frantic father is also in the image, gesturing while on the phone.

The photo, posted by the tech blog Gizmodo, quickly spread around the Internet – and speculation that the image was faked soon followed.

"Well this is certainly more life-affirming than your usual dudes with guns/drug dealers/dead people Google Street View fare," Gizmodo bloggers wrote after first posting the photo. "Yup, that's the youngest citizen of Wilmersdorf, Germany, captured moments after birth."

Gizmodo later updated its original post with a quote from a commenter, who shared that the German media was calling the image a hoax.

"I am German and have to tell you it's a fake. It has been reported in German television and in different German news sources," the commenter wrote, citing German website "There is a hospital right across the street and they have no knowledge of a birth right in front of their door. In the house is also an advertising agency that has no knowledge of a birth in front of their house."

Gizmodo originally reported that the image was replaced by Google shortly after the discovery, though there is some debate about where it was taken.

Some websites report the photo was snapped at 37 Hubertusallee in the Berlin suburb of Wilmersdorf, Germany, while others claim it was Zwerchgasse 39 in Mannheim, Germany.

A search for the Hubertusallee address into Google Maps generates what looks like the same location as the "birth" photo, but the building is blurred and there are no people on the sidewalk.

The Zwerchgasse address prompts this message from Google Maps: "This image is under review and will be available soon."

The fact that the building contains an advertising agency has caused some to speculate that the whole thing is an elaborate marketing stunt.

TechCrunch Europe also reports the photo is a phony, pointing to Google Germany's Twitter page, which has confirmed the photo did not come from its cameras.

"The alleged birth on Street View, which just now is making the rounds, is a fake," reads Google's post.

Google Street View was introduced to Germany this month, and has already created quite a stir.

Earlier this week, an image taken in Germany that appeared to show a naked man climbing out of the trunk of his car went viral.

Germans who asked to have their homes blurred out in the images were egged by vandals who left notes like "Google's cool," according to MSNBC.

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