If you Googled Michelle Obama recently you might have been surprised by the results.
Of the 7,900,000 options brought up by a Google Image search for her, the top result at the moment is a doctored photo of the First Lady with monkey features.
According to The Guardian the image on a Google-owned Blogger site has been taken off the ‘Hot Girls’ blog, but the distorted shot still appears on Google searches. The internet search engine has issued a statement explaining that while they do not endorse the offensive image being up there, they will not remove it.
Above the image Google has put a banner with the title ‘Offensive Search Results’, inviting users to find out about their policy. The statement said: “sometimes Google search results from the Internet can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries.”
It went on to say that while they reserve the right to deal with requests for link removal, Google’s policy was not usually to do this unless the page or site posed a legal problem. “We do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it.”
The image has provoked an outpouring of criticism for Google online, with one Twitter user decrying it as a ‘racist caricature’.
The internet giant have been criticised often since the site launched in 1996. They are currently engaged in a legal battle over their online library, which some say violates copyright , and have faced privacy complaints because of the Google Street View software.
Busy hosting the first state dinner of the Obama administration, The White House has so far declined to comment. But as one blogger pointed out, Mrs Obama is not the only person in American politics to be cartooned in this way.
The first image pulled up by the search Bush Monkey reveals an image of the former President as a distorted monkey thinking about bananas.