'Make me Asian' app yanked from Google Play amidst racism concerns

Google pulls plug on offensive app after public outcry

An app called "Make me Asian" that added details like narrowed eyes and conical hats to screenshots of users has been pulled from the Google Play store after inciting widespread public outrage, including a Change.org petition that was signed by more than 8,400 supporters.

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"Make me Asian," along with the similarly offensive "Make me Indian," which featured things like feathers and war paint, are gone as of today. Their creator was listed as KimberyDeiss, who apparently had a large number of "Make me ..." apps on the Play store, according to AppBrain. That developer page appears to be down as well.

Peter Chin, a Washington, D.C., pastor and the organizer of the Change.org petition, celebrated the deletion of the apps, telling NPR, "I am deeply thankful to those who realized the danger of these stereotypes entering the mainstream and spoke out against this app, [b]ut I am also appreciative of Google, who listened to our concerns and acted accordingly."

However, it took some time before Google acted in this case -- Chin first blogged about the app in mid-November, and the intervening months saw a Twitter campaign and the aforementioned petition have no effect on the Play store until today.

Somewhat strangely an avowedly progressive company, Google has been at the center of the occasional sociopolitical controversy of late. Iris, the Android platform's ostensible answer to Apple's Siri, was hammered for early versions that provided stridently right-wing answers to some queries in early 2012. That, of course, was after Siri itself came under fire from pro-choice activists for apparently being hesitant to direct users to Planned Parenthood locations. (For the record, both apps have been updated to be less controversial.)

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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