Beyoncé Knowles and Barack Obama
Beyoncé Knowles, Barack Obama and Jay Z (not pictured) have been depicted as white people in an illustration on the WikiHow website concerning fundraising events in politics Getty Images

Popular "how-to" tutorial website WikiHow has been forced to apologise after it was discovered to have portrayed former US president Barack Obama and singers Beyoncé Knowles and Jay Z as white people.

An article on WikiHow entitled "How to Become a Congressman" provides a brief summarisation of all the steps you need to take in order to get into politics in the US and run for either the House of Representatives of the Senate.

Previously, the article also included a drawing for one of the tips, entitled "7) Schedule and attend fundraising events", which advises readers to "seek assistance from experts on fundraising to best optimise your time".

The sketch was drawn in WikiHow's familiar illustration style, but on closer inspection, users realised that the drawing, which depicts two white men and one white woman with blonde hair, was in fact an almost identical copy of a photograph of Obama, Beyoncé and Jay Z.

The photograph, taken at a fundraising event held in New York City in 2012, features Obama laughing as he talks to Beyoncé and Jay Z. Beyoncé's hair is blonde in the photograph, and she is wearing a long-sleeved red dress, while Obama and Jay Z are outfitted in black tuxedos and black ties.

A Beyoncé fan running the Twitter account @beyupdates_ noticed the similarities between the article and the photograph on Sunday 22 January and tweeted about it. The tweet was liked 24,000 times and shared 19,000 times, as well as receiving 204 responses.

WikiHow has removed the image and the tip from the article completely. The website responded to angry fans on Twitter at 9pm on Tuesday 24 January, saying that one of its volunteers removed the offending image within minutes of the first tweet.

WikiHow said that it investigated the incident and found that the picture was created by a team of illustrators in 2014. The picture was drawn by a sketch artist, who then forwarded the sketch to a colourist to complete the photograph.

The website said that the colourist received the image as a black and white sketch and had no idea that the image was actually a sketch of Obama, Beyoncé and Jay Z, and that it believed that the "whitewashing" was not intentional.

"When we saw the whitewashed image of Obama, Jay Z & Beyoncé, we were disgusted & ashamed. It never should have been on WikiHow," WikiHow concluded.

"This doesn't excuse the fact that we hosted a terrible image on wikiHow and we needed more diversity on that article period. We're talking with our illustrators to prevent recurrence and encourage diversity. Especially in positions of power."