Amazon has removed a controversial app called Rescue the Anorexia Girl after facing backlash from online users and eating disorders awareness groups.
The game, marketed by SmartTouch Media and previously sold on Amazon and Android platforms, allowed users to throw food at a cartoon girl suffering from anorexia. If players missed the girl, she would become “ill from leanness” and die.
Amazon’s product description for the app read: “Help anorexia girl become healthy! Skinny girl needs your help to get fatter. Feed her with different goodies – sweet and regular – cakes, chicken, pastry, sandwiches and etc. … Just throw food at her when she appears. The more you hit the mark, the more healthier she becomes! If you miss the target, girl may become ill from leanness! Be attentive!”
The app was met with outrage on Twitter, with users calling it “deplorable” and “offensive.”
Eating disorders organizations were equally upset.
“While we don’t think apps like Anorexic Girl cause eating disorders – we know that eating disorders are biologically based mental illnesses with the highest mortality of any psychological illness – they belittle and further stigmatize dangerous disorders,” Amy E. Cunningham, co-founder of the International Eating Disorder Action coalition, tells PEOPLE. “Within four hours of our members taking to Twitter, Amazon had removed the app.”
Claire Mysko, program director for the National Eating Disorders Association, also spoke to PEOPLE about the game.
“Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric diagnosis. That is no laughing matter,” she said. “We are grateful to the activists who called out this offensive app and to Amazon for removing it.”
Amazon responded to the criticism and explained its decision to pull the game: “All apps in the Amazon Appstore must adhere to our content guidelines and the app in question is no longer available from our store,” a spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
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