Google’s Racist Apps Removed After 8,400+ Sign Petition

Google Play store pulls ‘Make Me Asian,’ ‘Make Me Indian’ off its virtual shelf for telling users to overlay slanted eyes, darken skin on photos then “laugh heartily.”

Make me Asian and Make me Indian Google Apps Offend, Called Racist

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

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.

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  • So I fully agree that these apps are dispicable, and I think equating them to blackface is legit, but is “hipster” synonymous with “racist” now? I missed when that happened.

  • Could the reason why apps and acts this can be passed off without issues is due to the perception that Asians, Native Americans and East Asians do not voice their anger in the same manner as Black Americans, Hispanics and the LGBT communities? It seems that the former mentioned are deemed as the groups that can be pushed around without any backlash. However, there will come a point when they start to say enough is enough and begin to deliver the same kind backlash that Black Americans, Hispanics and LGBt communities deliver when pushed.

  • I think we need to establish a new standard about who can and cannot discern what is racist. With sexual harassment directed toward women the standard is based on the discernment of reasonable women. The same should apply to any other perception of perceived harassment based on race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, religion and so on. As a female person of color I experience enough direct & uninformed biased behavior, speech and attitude to establish my reasonable credibility in both areas and would hope that my experience would apply across the board. But the facts speak differently and I have on more than one occasion missed the impact of incidents I have witnessed or read about that have targeted others.
    I care more about the impact on the communities intentionally or unintentionally impacted by the uniformed stupidity of people who don’t get the basic principles of how to build rather than breakdown relationships than I do about the motivations of the later group.
    People need to get that life is not just about their individuality and individual rights. Life is about our ability to be in relationships with others that sustain us rather than tear us apart.
    I would rather work to get better about relationships than find I am increasingly isolated and apologetic because I was too lazy, too selfish or too stupid to understand that at the end of my life the measure of my life will be based on my ability to connect and maintain connections with people, not how much stuff or power over others I hoarded to the end.

    • Luke Visconti

      I agree with your opinion about what constitutes the measure of a successful life, but I suggest that you should cut yourself some slack. As Cornel West said at one of our events, “We are all cracked vessels.”

      The “standard” you speak of is increasingly crowdsourced. In the past five years, we’ve seen the destruction of the journalistic “ivory tower,” replaced by the voices on social media. I’m not making a judgement here, it’s a fact: People spend the time they used to spend with “traditional” media on their social media, which has ever-increasing quantities of content to consume. This is in line with what you had to say about relationships.

      And, regardless of your politics, Governor Romney’s loss in the last election is about the growing expression of underrepresented groups. This is an amazing event considering the incumbent presides over the worst economy since 1934 (and nobody can objectively say he’s been a ball of fire on giving the country any leadership out of the mess we’re in). Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

    • Terrell Jackson

      Only problem is there isn’t anything interesting about white skin and round eyes. Plus, being Caucasian is more of a state of mind. So the “make me Caucasian app” should be an add-on to your text messaging app, and it would insert words that made you sound white into your texts, for example, an African American might write “I gots to go to da store and get some chicken and grits” the app would convert it to say “Actually, I’m going to go to Trader Joe’s to pick up some non-GMO, organic, gluten free, vegan humus for my board game party tonight. All of my progressive, college educated friends will be there in their skinny jeans. We’re going to play trivial pursuit, and talk about politics. We’ll also talk about all the issues going on around the world, why we think they started and potential solutions to resolve them. But in the end, nothing will come of our ideas, we’ll just all leave and go back to our white collar jobs and homes in the suburbs.”

  • Amazing how ‘Make A Caucasian’ app requester JUST DON’T GET IT! That’s not making the irresponsible act corrected…just adding to the debacle. Don’t you understand this is not right no matter how you slice it up, and try to joke about it or help the designer of the app feel accepted. Boo on you all.

  • Terrell Jackson

    I can never think of an original idea, I searched for “black face app” after thinking about how cool it’d be to have such a thing. Turns out not only is it cool, but Google would take my app down if I made it…

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