Page last updated at 08:52 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 09:52 UK

Microsoft in web photo racism row

The US original (top) and the altered Polish version (bottom)

Software giant Microsoft has apologised for editing a photo to change a black man's head to that of a white man.

The picture, showing employees sitting around a desk, appeared unaltered on the firm's US website.

But on the website of its Polish business unit the black man's head was replaced with a white face, although the colour of his hands was unchanged.

Microsoft said it had pulled the image and would be investigating who made the changes. It apologised for the gaffe.

The altered image, which also featured an Asian man and a white woman, was quickly circulated online.

Bloggers have had a field day with the story, with some suggesting Microsoft was attempting to please all markets by having a man with both a white face and a black hand.

"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," said one blogger on the Photoshop Disasters blog.

Others have suggested the ethnic make-up of the Polish population, which is predominantly white, may have played a part in the decision to change the photo.



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