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Google places ad explaining offensive image

A distorted image purporting to be First Lady Michelle Obama is currently the No. 1 image result for her name. Google is using ad space to explain its policy for such matters.

Google has reserved one of its valuable ad spaces on Google Image Search to explain why an offensive image of Michelle Obama appears as the first result for searches on her name.

Search Engine Land noted that last week, Google had removed the image after claiming the site hosting it was spreading malware, but it's back with the ad featured prominently above the image results. "Sometimes our search results can be offensive," Google said in the ad copy. "We agree. Read more."

Clicking on the ad takes you to a special page on Google's site where the company explains "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." Google said its policy in matters like this is to only remove content from its site if that content is illegal, violates Google's Webmaster guidelines in some way, or if the site owner requests the content be removed.

What's not clear, however, is what triggers the company to take out an ad explaining the search results: after all, there's no shortage of things on the Internet that would offend the average person. Google did not immediately respond to a request for more information about how those decisions are made.

Search Engine Land notes Google has also taken out explanation ads against search queries such as "jew" and "miserable failure," the search query that introduced much of the world to the concept of the Google bomb when searches for those keywords were orchestrated to point to the official Web site of former President George W. Bush by taking advantage of Google's PageRank formula.