Google pulls 'Make Me Asian' app

CAMILLE BAUTISTA
Last updated 14:20 23/01/2013
asian
PETER CHIN/change.org

Google has pulled the 'Make Me Asian' app from its Play Store after a petition called for its removal.

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This post was originally published on Mashable.

Make Me Asian, an app that allowed users to slant their eyes and don a rice paddy hat, received much backlash over its stereotypical depictions.

Google pulled the app from its Play Store after thousands signed an online petition calling for its removal.

App developer KimberyDeiss created the face-changing application which yellowed users' skin and decorated faces with a Fu Manchu mustache.

"You can for a few seconds to make [yourself] a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or any other Asians," the description said, according to CNN.

Another app by the same developer, called Make Me Indian, broadened a person's nose, gave them long black hair, war paint and a feathered headband.

Peter Chin, a pastor in Washington DC, organised an online petition on change.org, calling out Google for perpetuating racism.

"I've seen characterisations like this before, but I thought it particularly dangerous that it was an app and on Google Play," Chin tells Mashable. "It made me afraid that the characterisations would be normalised more than I would like."

Online activist group 18 Million Rising joined the effort with their own petition and spread of the hashtag, #makemeracist.

More than 10,000 people signed the petitions, and activists tweeted the campaign to Asian-American celebrities, including Aziz Ansari and Kal Penn.

Though it is unconfirmed whether or not Google removed the apps as a direct result of the petitions, Google released a statement to CNN saying, "We don't comment on individual apps. We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies."

Their developer program policy prohibits hate speech, specifically the promotion of hatred toward groups of people based on factors including race and ethnic origin. No apps were found on Google Play Store under KimberyDeiss' username.

Chin was unable to reach anyone directly at Google, despite numerous attempts over more than three months. Pairing social media with the online petition set the foundation of the effort, he says.

"It was clear it was a very opaque process with no feedback or way to gauge that anyone was listening," Chin says.

"I completely understand Google's concerns about free speech but at the same time they have corporate responsibilities and they have to balance things out. I'm really thankful it all came together and am encouraged to hear their response actualised."

Mashable is the largest independent news source covering digital culture, social media and technology.

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