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Google ‘Make Me Asian’ App Faces Protests From Asian-American Groups

Google app "Make Me Asian" allows users to change their eye shapes and don Fu Manchu mustaches

A Google app, "Make Me Asian," that allows users to change their appearance by reshaping eyes or fashioning portraits with rice paddy hats and Fu Manchu mustaches is facing protests from Asian-American groups.

Google Play

The "Make Me Asian" app claims "this is just a fun app [that] lets you indulge you and your friends," according to its description on the Google Play store.

"You can for a few seconds make himself a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or any other Asians," reads the description of the app, created by user KimberyDeiss, in broken English.

An online campaign called 18 Million Rising — named after the number of Asian-Americans in the United States — called the app's depictions of Asians and Native Americans "racist and offensive."

A similar app, "Make Me Indian," from the same maker has also recently drawn criticism.

"These racist and offensive portrayals of Asians and Native Americans perpetuate damaging racial stereotypes and should not be distributed on the Google Play store," the campaign said. 

Google did not respond to requests for comment from TheWrap but said in a statement to CNN that it would remove the app if it had violated policies against hate speech.

The Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund urged Google to remove the app.

“Google shouldn't be in the business of promoting racist stereotypes," Ujala Sehgal, the communications coordinator for AALDEF, told TheWrap. "The ‘Make Me Asian’ app is one sure way for Google to alienate all of its Asian American customers with its offensive attempts at humor. If this app does not violate Google’s policies on hate speech — as it claims — then it should take another look at its policies."

Washington, D.C.-based pastor Peter Chin has started a petition on Change.org to have the app removed. By Wednesday afternoon, it had garnered more than 2,500 signatures.

"Now you too can be Asian by putting a rice paddy hat and fu manchu mustache on your profile picture, complete with slanty eyes and yellow skin!…because that's all it takes to represent the four billion Asians in the world, a stupid hat and facial hair," Chin wrote in the petition. "Tell Google that these apps perpetuate hateful and offensive racial stereotypes that have been used to humiliate Asians and Native Americans for centuries, and you want both apps removed immediately from Google Play."  

The Angry Asian Man blog also criticized the app and linked to the petition.

"Oh hells no," a post from November said. "At the risk of giving this damn thing more attention than it deserves, behold this ridiculously racist Android app: Make Me Asian."

Users who have downloaded "Make Me Asian" are largely giving it a thumbs down, complaining that in addition to being racist the app is "buggy" and that "none of the features work." The majority of reviews have given it one star out of five.