Google removes #1 Michelle Obama image result

Michelle Obama

Google has removed a controversial image of First Lady Michelle Obama from its Google Image Search results page, citing harmful malware as the reason for the action. 

The website Search Engine Roundtable points out that at the time of its removal, the photo was the number one search result in a Google Image Search for "Michelle Obama." 

The photo is a distorted version of Obama's face designed to accentuate racial characteristics, and it's easy to see why many people might find it offensive. 

But that fact wasn't mentioned by Google’s Matt Cutts, who said in a post on the Search Engine Roundtable Thursday that the site hosting the Obama photo was violating Google’s guidelines for safe websites. 

“… that page did violate our webmaster guidelines because it was serving malware to users, which violates the quality guideline that says ‘Don’t create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.’ I believe that the Images team did a general anti-malware sweep.”

The same sweep was not performed on the main Google search page, writes searchengine.com

"Sure enough, a search for the site in Google Images produces no results. But the malware sweep apparently didn’t reach the main web search index...the site itself is still listed in Google.com search results with no malware warning." 

Cross-posted on Washington Scene