Google has removed the controversial ‘Make Me Asian’ and ‘Make Me Indian’ apps from its Google Play store—and has deleted the developer’s profile and all her other apps. The action comes after 8,452 petitioners slammed the technology giant and urged it to remove the racist apps from the Google Play store and stay true to its “Don’t be evil” motto.
Click here to view the petition.
The free apps allow Android smartphone users to edit photos by adding “humorous” stereotypes that vary by app: They can darken skin color, change eye shape to an “Asian” slant or add ethnic accessories like an American Indian headdress. “Compare the results with your friends and laugh heartily!” writes app developer KimberyDeiss. “In few taps you can transform yourself and your friends in the real Indians, using different effects and settings.”
Both apps have been downloaded between 50,000 and 100,000 times.
Although Google has a Diversity@Google section on its website and a Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report including lots of “Googley” images and anecdotes about scholarships and internships and community philanthropy, we can’t assess its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Despite annual invitations, Google has never participated in The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity in the 13 years the survey has been in existence.
Not Racism? Google’s Hate-Speech Policy
Despite the “Make me Asian” and “Make me Indian” apps’ blatant use of offensive stereotypes, Google has refused to remove them from its Google Play store. The apps do not violate the company’s policies, Google told CNN.
Google’s hate-speech policy for developers states that it does not “allow the promotion of hatred toward groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity.” Because the apps are not “deliberately” offensive, they do not constitute a violation.
Offensive, Yes. But Racist?
Washington, D.C.–based pastor Peter Chin, an Asian who was offended when he downloaded the app, launched the full-scale petition in reaction to Google’s inaction.
“These are nothing less than hateful and offensive stereotypes that are used to this very day to marginalize and humiliate people. They are not funny, and their use highlights a vicious double standard in the treatment of certain minority groups,” writes Chin. “Blackface is thankfully and rightfully recognized as thoroughly racist, so why in the world is “yellowface” and “redface” given a pass?”
Chin says that “by choosing to allow these apps to proliferate on their branded Google Play store, they are implicitly normalizing these characterizations.”
Now he’s urging others to flag both apps as inappropriate and to tweet the following to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt: @ericschmidt Take the racist Make Me Asian and Make Me Indian apps off @googleplay NOW! #makemeasian
— Mr★Starus (@KioshStar) December 28, 2012
Additionally, users are voicing their outrage on the apps’ User Review pages: “What’s is fun for this app? I do not understand… It’s fun for white?” writes Hiro Tsukihiji. “Extremely racist app. I’m sure hipsters love this thing. I for one feel it’s racist. What will they come out with next a black face app?” writes Aaron Bollingmo.
Nonprofit organization 18 Million Rising is sponsoring a similar petition. So far, 1,700 people have signed.