The world is full of strange things, but is there really a mysterious bunker hidden on a remote island off Western Australia?
A video posted on Instagram on June 29 shows a user on Google Earth zooming in on a map of WA to focus in on a small island, narrowing down into a strange underground room filled with empty chairs gathered around a floating object.
Text with the post states: “WTF is that?? UNIVERSAL ANOMALIES! This is as weird as it comes.”
The video is actually part of a viral phenomenon known as “backrooms” in which people share disturbing images of supposedly hidden or abandoned places.
Although they may appear baffling to viewers outside specific internet subcultures, backrooms are user images that have been uploaded online and in this case added to Google’s mapping services.
A Google representative told AAP FactCheck the company regularly removes false images, including the one in the Instagram post.
“We go to great lengths to make sure that the imagery in Google Earth and Street View is useful, and reflects the world our users explore,” the representative said in an email.
“After looking into this, our team has confirmed the image was uploaded by a contributor and had already been removed because our systems determined it violated our policies.”
A photo of a bleak office space inspired other users to post images of similar “liminal spaces” that evoked vaguely menacing abandoned environments, which some claim could be accessed by “falling out of reality”.
The Reddit forum r/backrooms has more than 217,000 members who share backroom locations and theories. A description of the subreddit notes “THIS IS A FICTIONAL CONCEPT.” The West Australian location is specifically mentioned in one Reddit thread.
Google Maps and Google Earth collect data through satellite and other images.
“We use a combination of human operators and industry-leading technology to closely monitor 24/7 for fraudulent content, and also encourage people to report inappropriate or inaccurate content so we can review and take action,” Google’s representative told AAP FactCheck.
A Google Earth search of the location pinpointed in the Instagram video shows the WA backroom no longer exists.
That may be disquieting to backroom fans, but it didn’t fall out of reality – it’s just Google enforcing its submission policies.
An Instagram video which claims to show a hidden, mysterious space in Western Australia is not authentic. It is part of an internet subculture call “backrooms”, which aims to produce dread-inducing memes from uploaded images on Google Earth. The company has since been removed the image.
False – The claim is inaccurate.