Google racist blunder
Jacky Alciné , who was in the photo, reported the highly insenstive error to a Google executive.Twitter

Google has apologised after new Photos app mistakenly labelled a black couple as being "gorillas".

The company issued a statement saying it was "appalled" by the error in which uploaded pictures were automatically tagged using its own artificial intelligence software.

The error was brought to light by a New York-based software developer Jacky Alciné who was one of the people pictured in the photos.

"Google Photos, y'all f***ed up. My friend's not a gorilla," Jacky Alciné tweeted on Sunday after a photo of him and a friend was mislabelled as "gorillas" by the app.

Google executive Yonatan Zunger admitted the highly offensive error. "This is 100% not OK [It was] high on my list of bugs you 'never' want to see happen."

"We used to have a problem with people [of all races] being tagged as dogs, for similar reasons," he said. "We're also working on longer-term fixes around both linguistics [words to be careful about in photos of people] and image recognition itself [e.g., better recognition of dark-skinned faces]. Lots of work being done and lots still to be done, but we're very much on it."

A spokeswoman for Google told the BBC: "We're appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened. We are taking immediate action to prevent this type of result from appearing. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labelling, and we're looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future."

Mr Alciné responded to the apology saying he still had concerns.

"I do have a few questions, like what kind of images and people were used in their initial priming that led to results like these," he said. "[Google has] mentioned a more intensified search into getting person of colour candidates through the door, but only time will tell if that'll happen and help correct the image Silicon Valley companies have with intersectional diversity - the act of unifying multiple fronts of disadvantaged people so that their voices are heard and not muted."

Google also came under fire on social media for the racist blunder. "Google categorised a Black women as "Gorilla" in their new Google Photo app. Racism? Shame on @google" wrote one shocked social media user.

Zunger has confirmed that Google have already taken immediate action to ensure such an incident does not reoccur.

He explained the company is "also working on longer-term fixes around both linguistics - words to be careful about in photos of people - and image recognition itself - eg better recognition of dark-skinned faces".

It's not the first time Google Photos has mislabelled pictures. Earlier this year, searches for "n****r house" globally and searches for "n****r king" in Washington DC turned up results for the White House, the residence of the US president, Barack Obama. In May news site iTech Post noted that the app was tagging pictures of dogs as horses.

Users are able to remove badly identified photo classifications within the app, which should help it improve its accuracy over time - a technology known as machine learning.