The "Make Me Asian" app works by narrowing eyes, adding a Fu Manchu mustache and a rice paddy hat. A similar app called "Make Me Indian" darkens skin, adds face paint and a headband in an apparent effort to make users resemble a Native American.
KimberyDeiss, a user on Google Play, seems to be the creator of a host of similar Android apps, including "Make me Russian," "Make me fat," "Make me bald" and "Make me Irish."
"This is just a fun app [that] lets you indulge you and your friends!" the "Make me Asian" app's description reads. "Almost instantly, you can make yourself or your friends ... representatives of Asian nations, such as Chinese or Japanese."
The app currently has earned a user rating of two out of five stars. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that both the "Make me Asian" and "Make me Indian" apps have been downloaded between 50,000 and 100,000 times each.
But as Yahoo! notes, some Asian-Americans do not find the application clever or fun and have launched an online campaign to have the app pulled. A group called 18 Million Rising's petition asks signers to "take a stand" against "racist and offensive portrayals of Asians and Native Americans perpetuate damaging racial stereotypes."
The Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund has also asked Google to take down the "Make me Asian" app, according to Yahoo!
The Change.org petition reads, in part:
Google's motto is "Don't Be Evil", which makes it difficult to fathom why they carry the "Make Me Asian" and "Make Me Indian" apps by KimberyDeiss on their Google Play Store. These apps overlay dated and racist stereotypes onto your photos: rice paddy hat, fu manchu mustache, slanty eyes and yellow skin - and voila, digital yellowface!
They are not funny, and their use highlights a vicious double standard, where people are allowed to characterize Asians and Native Americans in a way that they never would do to other races or ethnic groups. Google is implicitly normalizing these characterizations by allowing them to proliferate on their branded Google Play store.
Chin asks readers, close to 3,000 of whom have signed his petition in the several weeks since it was posted, to flag the Asian and Native American apps as inappropriate on the Google Play site.
Google, however, appears to disagree with Chin, telling CNN in a statement that the apps in question did not seem to violate company policy.
"We don't comment on individual apps," the statement read. "We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies."
Color us unimpressed.
Clarification: Language in text has been amended to indicate that the app is a third-party app for Google Play.