November 25th, 2009
12:52 PM ET
11 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. double standard

    ok so a google image search of bush has him drawn like a monkey as well as some of him as the devil and a nazi. So why the double standard?

    November 25, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. Jason L.

    It seems Google has already removed it. Searching for Michelle Obama no longer produces the monkey picture. Guess what, all humans look like monkeys or apes, at least sometimes, depending on the facial impression. Remember that post of W that showed like 100 pictures of him with different facial expressions, each one compared to a different chimp picture, and not one of them where he didn't look like the chimp in the picture – now that was classic.

    November 25, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    Why blame Google for the racism that is so obvious amongst the right-wing kooks and howlers? Of course that is why those kooky extremist Republicans are in such froth-mouth rage about everything!

    November 25, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. mickey lane

    How come NO-ONE! complained when the internet & other media showed a picture of then Pres. Bush morphing into a monkey? At the time I enjoyed tremendously that depiction of Pres. Bush. I was a big time liberal democrat. Now I understand the uproar of the Republicans then – so now the democrats have to endure what they started. ' What's good for the goose is good for the gander.'

    November 25, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. marcus

    Apparently, the person who posted the picture is proud racist. Being so, he/she should have no problem posting their name for all to see.

    November 25, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. Barbara Orsino

    Such behavior is appalling and I'm embarassed that somebody from my country has so much evil and hatred in them to post such image. Where is the patriotism and respect for the golden rule.? The person who posted this image is a coward who hides behind a computer and degrades another individual who he/she does not personally know . The hate mongerer merely hates for a living and spreads such hate like a virus because it is obvious there is a void in his/her life to have the time to spread his hate. Wouldn't the world be much nicer if such people worried more about themselves contributing to society in a positive way? It's much easier to name call.

    November 25, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. jeff

    I thought this country had freedom of speech and expression.

    November 25, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. Susan in NC

    Disturbing, disgusting, and malicious! Which one of you Republicants thought that would be "cute" or "funny"? No one's laughing, but we're surely paying attention. We could not have a more gracious, intelligent, and charming FLOTUS - may God bless her!

    November 25, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. Tim

    She is Rosalyn to Obama's Jimmy. Both are clowns.

    Would not vote for him again, ever !

    November 25, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. Reformed Republican

    Free speech is one thing – Insulting people on a public forum with racist hatred or bigoted religous remarks or images is another.

    How about some pix of Mohammad wearing a turban with a lit fuse and bomb hidden in it – is that OK too? Oh, I forgot, the Muslim crazies took issue in a violent way so suddenly free speech became secondary to threats of violence.

    And just what do you think "monkey pix" do to the gun toten', bible thumpin' teabaggers? Does it make them any less dangerous to America than they already are? Nope, it just facilitates their "call to action" just like Randall Terry of Operation Rescue stoked that nut job
    Scott Roeder into killing Dr. Tiller in church.

    Now that's what I call defending "free speech"..

    November 25, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. cecilia Lewis

    the warm glow of pride when President Obama was elected has certainly been replaced with anger and disgust for the few vocal mean spirited individuals who have voiced their hatred for the beautiful First Family.
    I feel ashamed that they would call themselves Americans.
    And the Republican Party is too silent, which speaks volumns for exactly who they are.
    whatever respect I had for members of the Repubilcan Party has gone in the wake of the hositility for the lunatic frenge and the Republican Party – they should be ashamed,

    November 25, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. Minnesotan

    Just another example of the hate and divisiveness the conservatives seem to wallow in. First, they didn't even want debate on Health Care reform, which is censorship and fascism. Now they're spreading their pathetic anti-American views. No wonder the Republican party is a joke.

    November 25, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  13. Dwayne

    ...yet for any reason at all racisim can't be an issue because it's never a factor in anything anymore. Everything is just peachy huh? If it's ever brought up then the race card is being played. You know what? Racism exists in this country. It's part of the basic pricinpals this nation was built on and around. So what can you expect from ignorance...nothing but ignorant results. Imagine that! People so hateful, jealous, and scared due to something as minor as a person's complextion, hair texture, and/or facial features. Blacks look like monkey's huh? Maybe blacks should start paiting portraits of whites as Devil's. That would be a good one. I mean if you want to be ignorant.

    November 25, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. Edna

    I did not realize that people were attacking President Obama's family, also. The right wing nuts continue to say that President Obama is fair game because President Bush was attacked viciously by the left when he was in office. I have never seen former President Bush be so viciously attacked as our President today, And if someone can prove it to me, please do so. But to attack his wife is disgusting. I was so happy when President Obama became our President, but did not realize that such nastiness would be forthcoming. This country is so full of hate and ugliness. I know his wife would not be unhappy if he did not run for the next term. He is only trying to help the people of tis country, and all the Republicans and the right wingers do is attack him unmercifully. They will pay for their viciousness. He will help the American people and hopefully they will look back and appreciate all the hard work that he has done for them. Bush left a mess, and President Obama has worked diligently to get us out of it.

    November 25, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
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