Obamagate part II

Index’s John Kampfner appeared on the BBC Six o’clock news last night, discussing the controversy over doctored images of Michelle Obama appearing prominently in Google image searches.

You can watch it here (item begins at 14m 30s)


Mysterious. Just as the news leads with Google not taking down a picture of Michelle Obama, doctored to give her monkey features, it seems the image no longer comes up in a Google image search — at least from this central London desktop.

michelle obama

Google had earlier taken to buying its own Google ads, leading to this message:

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.

Search engines are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the Internet. A site’s ranking in Google’s search results relies heavily on computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query.

The beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google, as well as the opinions of the general public, do not determine or impact our search results. Individual citizens and public interest groups do periodically urge us to remove particular links or otherwise adjust search results. Although Google reserves the right to address such requests individually, Google views the integrity of our search results as an extremely important priority. Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it. We will, however, remove pages from our results if we believe the page (or its site) violates our Webmaster Guidelines, if we believe we are required to do so by law, or at the request of the webmaster who is responsible for the page.

We apologize if you’ve had an upsetting experience using Google. We hope you understand our position regarding offensive results.

The Google Team

One has to say, Google has probably done the best it can under the circumstances. It would be wrong to attempt to remove or relegate the content, as Google does not own it, but as a private company, they have a right to distance themselves from it.