APPLE and Google have stirred up a storm online as social media users slammed them for promoting cartoon plastic surgery apps to children.
Angry netizens took to Twitter to lash out at the companies for two apps that urge users to operate on cartoon girls to make them beautiful.
Apple's app, created by Corina Rodriquez, features a smiling cartoon character named Barbie who is about to go under the knife and users of the app take on the role of a liposuction doctor, The Guardian reported.
The blurb for the app reads: "This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her. In our clinic she can go through a surgery called liposuction that will make her slim and beautiful. We'll need to make small cuts on problem areas and suck out the extra fat. Will you operate her, doctor??"
Recommended as being suitable for children aged nine and above, the game is called "Plastic Surgery & Plastic Doctor & Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie", said the report.
It was released in January 2013 and was free to download on Apple's iTunes store.
The Daily Mail reported that a women's rights group, Everyday Sexism, called the app sexist and damaging to young women's self esteem. It posted the game on Twitter, urging users to complain to iTunes.
The newspaper said more than 4,000 Twitter users rallied behind the rights group.
"This is disgusting and offensive. Please withdraw this product immediately," Sue Black tweeted. Another netizen Sara Lin Wilde tweeted: "Surely you can do better than a game that tells kids how plastic surgery is part of being pretty. That's gross"
The Guardian quoted Ms Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism, as saying that these apps were "incredibly damaging" to the body image held by young girls and could send the message that looks were everything.
"It is just so sad that we are sending that message to children as young as nine that the ideal body is all that they should be aiming for and that the way to get it is by cutting their bodies apart," she said.
The Guardian reported that the app had been removed from the Apple store by the end of Tuesday afternoon.
Ms Rodriquez's other titles, including "Leg & Foot Surgery & Doctor and Hospital Office for Barbie", and a range of makeover apps, are still available on iTunes.
Another app that was criticised was on Google Play which shows a blonde-haired cartoon character, Barbara, lying on a hospital bed with surgery marker lines all over her body, The Guardian reported.
The blurb on the app, developed by Natalya Staritsyna, reads: "Plastic surgeon is going to make operation on her body and face in order to return cute Barbara's look."
The Daily Mail estimated that the app has been installed between 500,000 and 1 million times.
A Google spokesman was quoted as saying "we don't comment on individual apps, but will remove apps that breach our guidelines".
The app was also removed on Tuesday, said The Guardian.
The two apps appeared to be unconnected to Mattel, makers of the Barbie doll, according to the report.