Google has apologised for a racist caricature of Michelle Obama that became the top result for users searching for images of the US First Lady.
Anyone typing “Michelle Obama” into Google Images this morning was presented with an altered photo depicting the US president’s wife with animal features.
However, the California-based Internet giant distanced itself from this by posting a message above the offensive photo.
The note states, “Sometimes our search results can be offensive. We agree,” directs users to a page explaining the technology giant’s policy on “disturbing” search results, The Telegraph reported.
The message makes it clear that the Michelle Obama image is not endorsed by Google, but indicates that the company will take no action to have it removed.
“Google views the integrity of our search results as an extremely important priority,” it states.
“Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it.” it added.
“We apologise if you’ve had an upsetting experience using Google. We hope you understand our position regarding offensive results,” it ends.
Google search result rankings are determined by complex algorithms that take into account a number of factors. A powerful element in the calculations is how many other sites on the Internet link to an image or web page from the search term text.
This means it is possible for mischievous web users to artificially inflate a search ranking in a process known as “Google bombing”, although this usually requires the coordinated efforts of thousands of people, the report said.