Update: Google appears to have finally removed the offensive image of Michelle Obama from search results. News agencies are beginning to report that they have, and searching “michelle obama” no longer yields the image (however, I’m behind a pretty strong Internet filter).
Image search “michelle obama” on Google and you’ll discover the highest-ranking image is that of the first lady as an ape. I noticed this a few days ago, but didn’t think much of it, except that it seemed out of place. Now, there are rumblings that Google should blacklist the image, removing it from search results altogether. If the government or White House ordered its removal, I’d object. The right of free speech is sacrosanct. But, if the citizenry is demanding its removal, I’m joining in.
The image is plain offensive.
Though I support the right of the person who posted the image to publish it, I also support the right of the people to call for its removal (i.e. moral persuasion). Yes, I’ll fight for your right to say what offends me, but I’m also fighting for the right to decline to hear it. That you have an unbridled right to speak does not guarantee an audience.
Consumers are perfectly justified in pressuring Google to remove (or at least demote) the image. If they can bow to China, they can bow to the interests and desires of free Americans.
An explanation of our search results.
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
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