Thousands of people have downloaded two apps from the Google Play Store that are now generating accusations of racism and stereotyping.
“Make me Asian” and “Make me Indian” apps allow Android smartphone users to transform a portrait by superimposing characteristics supposedly appropriate to such identities.
“The Make me Asian app manipulates pictures to give the subject yellow-tinged skin, narrow eyes, a conical rice-paddy hat and a Fu Manchu mustache taken from a fictional Chinese villain,” reports NPR
“Washington, D.C., Pastor Peter Chin is succinct about why he objects to the app: ‘It’s really, ‘Make Me An Asian Stereotype.’ Chin started a petition at Change.org against Make me Asian and a similar app for Native Americans. The latter app adorns users with a Native American headband — complete with a feather — long, dark hair and war paint under the eyes.Chin says the Google Play apps are dangerous. “My fear is that these kind of characterizations would similarly kind of become mainstream by virtue of Google’s … immense cultural influence,’ he says.
A Google spokeswoman said via email that the company removes apps that violate its policies. Google does have a policy against hate speech, but a source familiar with Google practices says the company considers the ‘intent’ of an app when reviewing it, and few violate its policies.
The developer of the Make me Asian app — whom NPR was unable to identify and reach — also created similar apps that make one appear to be ‘Frankenstein’ or ‘bald’ or ‘fat.’”