Microsoft Guilty of Bad Photoshop Use, Not Racism

If Microsoft is to be tagged "racist," its critics need to do a lot better. I understand the sensitivity involved, and some bozo should have thought twice before editing a white man's head to replace a black man's head in an advertising photo, but that doesn't make MS racist.

(See related story: 10 More Tech Company Photoshop Disasters)

Microsoft photoshop changes race
Hot news: This happens all the time. It's just usually done better, or ideally, an entirely different picture is selected. And it happens here at home, too.

A few months ago, standing in a Wells Fargo bank branch, a friend says he saw two versions of the same ad--each slightly different.

One included a Latina woman, the other an Asian woman, completely swapped--whole body--one for the other. Does this make Wells Fargo racist? Of course, not.

We live in a multicultural business environment that literally spans the globe. Companies know they need to present familiar faces to customers, to embrace multi-ethnicity, not reject it. My picture isn't likely to appear in an ad aimed at black South Africans, so what?

Someone thought a black person wasn't right for the Polish version of the ad. We only know this because it was handled so poorly. But, if a different original were selected, would anyone have complained that blacks were being excluded? I think not.

I am reminded of a video I saw many years ago that was produced by HP. No one seemed to notice that while the cast was multi-ethnic, all the Asians were engineers. Who were saving the others from their mistakes, I should add. Not racist, maybe a bit stereotypical, but not hatefully so.

Microsoft was wise to apologize for this screw-up. It's internal photo-use policies will doubtless be updated to tell people not to ham-handedly replace one ethnicity with another using Photoshop.

But, truth be known, this seems to happen all the time, Microsoft is not the only offender, and it doesn't make Microsoft racist. Just occasionally stupid, but didn't we know that already?

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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