November 25th, 2009
12:52 PM ET
8 years ago

Google apologizes for results of 'Michelle Obama' image search

Type 'Michelle Obama' in the popular search engine Google, and one of the first images that turns up is a picture of the American first lady.

Type 'Michelle Obama' in the popular search engine Google, and one of the first images that turns up is a picture of the American first lady.

(CNN) - For most of the past week, when someone typed "Michelle Obama" in the popular search engine Google, one of the first images that came up was a picture of the American first lady altered to resemble a monkey.

On Wednesday morning, the racially offensive image appeared to have been removed from any Google Image searches for "Michelle Obama."

Google officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Google faced a firestorm of criticism over the episode. First, it banned the Web site that posted the photo, saying it could spread a malware virus. Then, when the image appeared on another Web site, Google let the photo stand. When a Google image search brought up the photo, an apologetic Google ad occasionally appeared above it.

The ad redirected users to a statement from Google which read, "Sometimes Google search results from the Internet can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries. We assure you that the views expressed by such sites are not in any way endorsed by Google."

The California-based company then explained that search results rely on computer algorithms that take into account thousands of factors.

Full story

Updated: 12:52 p.m.

Filed under: Michelle Obama • Popular Posts
soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. Noah

    "Instead of Google deleting the photo, there should be a campaign against the person who posted the photo,"

    That is absurd. The person posting the photo obviously is out to offend and cause a controversy. Do you really think they are going to care if someone launched a campaign against them? That's exactly what they would want to happen. All that would do is bring more attention to them and the picture.

    November 25, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  2. Claire, Martha's Vineyard

    Sticks and stones may break her bones, but names will never hurt her.

    (She wouldn't be where she is if they did.)

    November 25, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. Waiting for 2012 to correct our error

    Isn't this much to do about nothing? Seems a little over the top to be so outraged. Where was the outrage when Bush was in office? Oh yeah, it's ok to tear apart Republicans and Sarah Palin, but how dare you pick on Democrats and the Obamas............the slobbering love affair continues.

    November 25, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Blackened

    You can only complain about this photo if you complained about the photos of George Bush made into a monkey. Otherwise you are a complete and total hypocrite whose using double standards.

    November 25, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  5. Elizabeth

    What should we expect from the pit of the underbelly of American
    society? Thank goodness they aren't the majority.

    November 25, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. Grahame

    Thank God I live in Canada and not the USA where bigotry and hate are alive and well. At least in Canada we have a modicum of civility and code of conduct to our fellow citizens.

    November 25, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  7. laurel

    Why doesn't Google remove the offensive and racist images doctored about Condoleeza Rice? Those are far more offensive, and racist than the Obama one.

    November 25, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  8. Nick San Diego

    The Lunitic fringe with this picture coupled with the Billboard in Colorado and the Republican Party with the help of Fox news,Limbaugh and Beck adding fuel to the fire, will only cause the total collapse of the Party.
    These antics will alienate the Fair minded and you can;t win anything with 39% and sinking fast
    The coalition of The South and Christian Right that constituted the Moral Majority in Nixons/Reagans days are gone. These people will be dragged into the future,just like their predessesors when the 8 hour day,40 hour week, the womans vote,anti discrimination laws (all progressive ideas) were fought for and won. Their HATE will only cuase them more problems.

    November 25, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  9. ron

    I agree the posting photo constitutes free speech. But, what is the message: the posting person thinks the first lady is a monkey? Why s/he did not come out and said so? You can't be coward in your exercise of free speech.

    November 25, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  10. Robert Smoots

    I think it is appalling that someone would even do something like this, but it just goes to show you that racism and ignorance go hand in hand.

    November 25, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  11. Dave C - NJ

    No censorship. Leave it all there...if you don't like it, don't click it.

    November 25, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  12. Tom in VA

    Doesn't everyone realize that if you want to find a racist... look inthe GOP. That's where they are.

    And you conservatives remember... people judge you based onthe company you keep. Your party is the party of chouce for racists.

    November 25, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    How many who blog on this and many other threads do so with the full knowledge that most comments are being "moderated", and yet, despite the moderations, continue to blog?

    Google should remove the photoshop photo. Should the person who originally posted the photo want to exercise their freedom of speech rights, they can bring their violation complaint to court.

    Meanwhile, I also have the right not to be forced to view what is personally offensive to me. I have deleted Google from my toolbar.

    November 25, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  14. Dar

    If the picture was Sarah Palin all of you left wing nut jobs would be eating it up and begging for more. It's a picture GET OVER IT

    November 25, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  15. Irma in North Carolina

    You can bet anything a republican had something to do with this.

    November 25, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. jj123

    Were there people this outraged when they did it to Bush???

    November 25, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. Librarian

    In the XXIth century in this country I am appalled that such racism still exists. The sub-human who posted this picture should be prosecuted.

    November 25, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. naomi

    Happens with the Bush family all the time. Who cares?

    November 25, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. Joan

    Obviously whoever posted such an insulting picture has serious problems. He or she should look at the gorgeous pictures of the First Lady at the State dinner last night. She looked like a model and was singled out by the Indian Prime Minister for her wonderful hospitality and grace. Some people will never accept the Obamas and that is really sad.

    November 25, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. Jack

    The president and Michelle is also scheduled to be in nearby Oslo, Norway on December 10 to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

    So what does that say about the haters?

    It says that the Obamas are better than they are.

    November 25, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. Jon

    I smell a Government takeover of Google in the works.

    November 25, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  22. The View

    People who hate die miserable deaths.

    November 25, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  23. Ignorance

    The right to free speech hides the ignorant racist citizens of our nation and the world. One day we will come together as humans and not use closed minded views to insult one another. The line should be drawn and someone needs to be accountable for the disrespect.

    November 25, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. S.Clarke

    How awful – not only is disrespectful it is also racist.

    First Lady Obama did all the right things – Attended Princeton
    graduated with honors and then attended Harvard and received
    a law degree. What else can African Americans do to be
    given respect.

    November 25, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. B

    This country has a very long way to go...

    Hatred seems to have no limits! It is going to hold this country back big time.

    November 25, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
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