Google has responded to an online petition by removing an application from its Google Play app store after thousands of netizens suggested it was racist.
“Make me Asian” was one of a series of face-changer apps by a developer calling him or herself “KimbereyDeiss”. The same developer offers a a native American version - “Make me Indian” – and the slightly less offensive “Make me Fat”, “Make me Bald” and “Make me Frankenstein”.
The apps process photos captured by the smartphone camera, allowing users to change the shape of their eyes and colour of skin and superimpose “rice paddy” hats, moustaches and other elements.
All of the apps and the developer’s profile page have now been removed from Play, but some screen shots live on at the link on the developer's name above.
The writing was probably on the wall for the apps when a Change.orgpetition organised by Washington pastor Peter China calling for their removal garnered more than 8,000 signatures. Asian American activist group 18 Million Rising launched a similar online petition.
“Google has tried to defend itself in this matter by stating they are not responsible for the content of apps because Android is open source,” Chin wrote on Change.org.
“But the fact is that Google Play is NOT open source, but a branded store from which Google derives profit and has removed other racist apps, such as a Nazi app in August of 2010.”
Apart from the Change.org petition, the vast majority of user reviews were overwhelmingly negative about Make me Asian. Some 195 users out of 276 awarded the app just one star on Google Play.
Aside from this little hiccup, however, the app store is not doing too badly for the Chocolate Factory, netting it a 311 per cent jump in revenues last year. ®