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Hey Microsoft, what happened to the black guy?

Software giant Microsoft is apologizing for digitally removing a black man from an ad that ran in Poland. Was this racism or a mirror of Polish society?

By Matthew ClarkStaff writer / August 26, 2009



Oh, no they didn’t!

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Software giant Microsoft is apologizing for removing a black man from of an ad that ran in Poland.

The photo – which ran unaltered in the US – shows three colleagues sitting around a desk beaming about how much they love Bill Gates’s products. There’s an Asian man, a black man, and a white woman.

But someone apparently thought that was a bit too much diversity for Polish tastes.

On the website of Microsoft’s Polish business unit, the black man’s head was replaced with a white man’s face.

Oh, yes they did.

But the image alterer forgot one thing: The white man in the photo still has black hands. Ooops.

The altered image has been a hit on blogs and a bit of a PR problem for Microsoft (thus the apology).

One reader on the Photoshop Disasters blog has an interesting interpretation: “The white head and black hand actually symbolise interracial harmony. It is supposed to show that a person can be white and black, old and young at the same time.”

Lest readers of that blog be tempted to think of the move as racist, however, “Marek from Warsaw” attempts to give a different perspective:

“There are no black people in Poland and an advert with a black guy directed toward local companies would look unnatural if not stupid. End of the story. … Whoever calls it racism devalues this world and simply refuses to think before expressing himself. (… or herself, to be politically correct).”

Editors at TechCrunch website are having some fun with the whole affair: They’ve started a contest for the funniest Polish Microsoft head replacement. The best head replacement (chosen by interns) at the end of Wednesday gets a free T-shirt.

Meanwhile, Microsoft says it is searching for who was responsible for the digital image alteration. Perhaps more Photoshop training is in order?

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