How Twitter users banded together to take down a cruel app mocking eating disorders

Social media gets a bad rap for harboring troll-like behavior, but it’s also a powerful tool to spark change when good people unite for a common cause. The latest example of this came earlier this week, when some eagle-eyed Twitter users spotted a deeply offensive gaming app being sold on Amazon. The “game” (yeah, we need quotes for this one) is called “Rescue the Anorexia Girl” and, as People reports,  SmartTouch Media was selling it on Amazon and Android platforms until very recently. Check out the deeply offensive description for the game, and while your blood boils, know there’s a positive outcome at the end of this story:

“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!”

If you think it’s messed up to turn a serious illness into a ridiculously off-color game, you’re not alone. When the Internet heard word of this game, social media users took to their platforms and sounded off. Here’s a sampling of the protests on Twitter:

The eating disorder prevention community also had some strong words for the makers and distributors of this offensive game.

“[The creators] have literally translated the eating disorder struggles of others into a game,” activist Brian Cuban wrote in a post for PsychCentral. “Apparently, all that is needed is a lack of empathy, a few bucks and a software developer to put your perverted vision of entertainment on any number of digital platforms.”

Imogen Smith, spokesperson for the Anorexia and Bulimia Care charity told The Independent,“We are horrified to learn of Amazon’s app which actively encourages people to make fun of those struggling with life threatening eating disorders… Throwing food at a person struggling with anorexia nervosa, who has a serious disabling fear of food in order to make them well suggests that anorexia is a fad and self-inflicted and not a complex psychological illness.”

Amazon heard their customers—especially all the customers tweeting directly at Amazon—and they’ve now removed the game from their stores. An Amazon representative explained to the The Independent “All apps in the Amazon App Store must adhere to our content guidelines and the app in question is no longer available from our store.”

Well, at least the game got pulled, but please, app makers and distributors, do better in the future, and really think about the potential harm your game could do before unleashing it on the world. And kudos to Twitter users who used their 140 characters to make a huge company pay attention and make a change.

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