Monday, September 07, 2020

The Hong Kong Protests on Street View

Recently Google updated the Street View imagery on Google Maps in Hong Kong with panoramas captured in October 2019. Some of this new imagery clearly shows the graffiti, political posters and other physical evidence of the protest movement in Hong Kong. The result means that if you now explore Hong Kong on Street View you can see lots of pro-Democracy graffiti adorning the walls and roads of the city.

In June of 2019 wide-spread anti-government protests began in Hong Kong in reaction to a proposed new law which would allow China to extradite people in Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland. The bill was eventually withdrawn but by then the Chinese government's violent reaction to the demonstrations had turned the protests into a full-scale pro-democracy movement. Evidence of that protest movement can now be clearly seen on Google Maps Street View.

The Stand News has collected a number of examples of the pro-Democracy protests which can now be found on Hong Kong's Street View. In The Footprints of the 2019 Struggle on Street View the Stand News has embedded a number of these Street Views.

One example can be seen in the screenshot above which shows the new Street View for an exit of the Prince Edward Station. On the 31st August 2019 the Hong Kong police indiscriminately attacked passengers at this MTR station after a pro-democracy demonstration had been held elsewhere in the city. After the event this exit of Prince Edward Station was used as an unofficial memorial wall where citizens left flowers and messages of support for the victims of the attack. In the new Street View of the station exit you can clearly sees these messages and white flowers.

Google, like many other multi-national companies, doesn't have the best of records in standing up to Chinese censorship. It will be interesting to see how quickly China demands that this imagery is removed and whether Google will allow these images to remain on Google Maps. Please leave a comment below if you notice these Street View images being changed or being blanked out on Google Maps.

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