Google apologizes for offensive first lady image

Nov 24, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. is apologizing for a racially offensive image of the First Lady that appears at the top of the list when users search for pictures of Michelle Obama on its site.

Google placed a text ad above the image titled "Offensive Search Results" that states "Sometimes our search results can be offensive. We agree."

Users who then click on the ad are directed to a letter from that explains its results "can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries" but notes that Google doesn't endorse content on these Web sites.

Google says its search formula relies on thousands of factors to rank a Web page's importance, and says it doesn't eliminate search results simply because of user complaints. However, Google says it will take down in certain cases, such as when required by law to do so.

"We apologize if you've had an upsetting experience using Google," the company wrote.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google also posted about the issue in a user support forum.

Spokesman Scott Rubin would not elaborate on how the image ended up as the number-one result for the first lady. He said the company did remove one site displaying the image from its results because it included viruses, which Google policy prohibits. But a different Web site later posted the same image, he said.

The White House declined to comment.

This is not the first time Google has apologized for content in its search results. The company issued a similar response in 2004 when the top result for the term "Jew" pointed to an anti-Semitic Web site.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Pinterest buys startup with image organizing skills

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google Maps combines with Google Local

Oct 07, 2005

Google Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., says it has combined its Google Maps service with Google Local, moving both out of beta, or testing, status.

Google draws upon rival ideas with search changes

Mar 24, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. prides itself on setting trends, but it appears to be copying some of its smaller rivals with the latest refinements to the way it displays Internet search results.

Google digging deeper to improve search results (Update)

May 13, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. is about to add more features to its already dominant Internet search engine - and some of the changes could give Web surfers less reason to click through to other sites. That scenario ...

Google debuts gov search

Jun 15, 2006

Google debuted yet another search engine product Thursday, this time a U.S. Government Search.

Recommended for you

Microsoft challenging US on overseas data

5 minutes ago

In a case closely watched by the tech sector, Microsoft will challenge Thursday a US court order requiring it to give prosecutors electronic mail content associated with an overseas server.

Teens love vacation selfies; adults, not so much

12 hours ago

(AP)—Jacquie Whitt's trip to the Galapagos with a group of teenagers was memorable not just for the scenery and wildlife, but also for the way the kids preserved their memories. It was, said Whitt, a "selfie ...

US spy agency patents car seat for kids

15 hours ago

Electronic eavesdropping is the National Security Agency's forte, but it seems it also has a special interest in children's car seats, Foreign Policy magazine reported Wednesday.

Country Web domains can't be seized

18 hours ago

The Internet's regulatory authority said Wednesday that country-specific Web domains cannot be seized in court proceedings, as it sought to quash an effort to recover assets in terrorism-related lawsuits.

User comments : 0