Google removes 'Asian' app

2013-01-18 08:55
Android software powers most smartphones worldwide as the Google-backed mobile platform dominates the market. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Android software powers most smartphones worldwide as the Google-backed mobile platform dominates the market. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Washington - Google has removed a Make Me Asian app - that let players change their appearance - following an uproar by Asian American activists who said the game promoted derogatory stereotypes.

As of Thursday, Make Me Asian and similar apps such as Make Me Fat and Make Me (American) Indian were no longer available on the search engine giant's online store Google Play.

Make Me Asian had billed itself as allowing a person to "make himself a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or any other Asian". The user was able to add features to a person's picture, such as a conical hat or a Fu Manchu moustache.

Nearly 8 500 people signed a petition on the social action site urging Google to remove the app after the blog Angry Asian Man in November drew attention to it, calling it "ridiculously racist".

Peter Chin, the Washington pastor who launched the petition, said he was concerned that stereotypes offensive to Asian Americans would become more mainstream if distributed through Google Play.


"I understand if people still use those characterisations, but I don't feel comfortable with them becoming commonplace. That would really, I think, be going backward for the Asian American community," he said.

"If this were several generations down the line and these kinds of stereotypes were so old and played out that no one even cared, then I could understand. But I don't think we're quite there yet. They are still fairly offensive and used very often," he said.

Asian American activists often complain that the community is depicted as being perpetually foreign, even though people of Asian heritage have lived in the US for generations.

Google did not immediately return a request for comment. Chin said that Google only offered formulaic responses over the concerns and did not inform him that it was taking down the app.

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