A number of users on TikTok and Twitter have exploited Grindr’s explore feature to zoom in on the Olympic Village in Tokyo and expose the profiles of queer athletes competing in the Summer Olympics, including at least one athlete from a country where same-sex sexual relations are illegal.
According to a report in Insider, multiple users have posted videos showing the faces and profiles of Olympic athletes. One of the athletes whose Grindr profile was exposed comes from a country where same-sex sexual relations are a crime. Twitter and Grindr issued statements saying the posts violated their rules of conduct, and while TikTok has failed to respond to requests for comment, the popular short-form video-sharing platform has apparently removed the offending videos.
One video referenced by Insider and viewed by Out (which we will not be linking to) showed dozens of profiles with clearly identifiable faces. The video had more than 10,000 likes at the time of writing.
"I used Grindr’s explore feature to find myself an Olympian boyfriend," the user lightheartedly said while scrolling through profiles located at the Olympic Village.
The video was apparently removed by TikTok for violating community guidelines, but a later post from the same user appeared to mock the removal, as well as the public backlash to his actions.
"Is it me?” the shirtless young man said in the follow-up video. "Am I the drama? I don’t think I’m the drama. Maybe I am? Am I the villain? I don’t think I’m the villain?"
Commenters on the videos were quick to point out the danger such exposure could bring to gay athletes who are still in the closet.
"Don't put these peeps in jeopardy just to get off on the other side of the world," one commenter posted.
A spokesperson for Twitter quoted by Insider said the posts "violated the Twitter Rules against hateful conduct and will need to be removed before the account owners can continue to use Twitter."
A spokesperson for Grindr also told Insider that the users who posted the videos "are in breach of Grindr's Terms and Conditions of Service which prohibit them from publicly displaying, publishing, or otherwise distributing any content or information that are part of the Grindr services. Out of respect for our users' privacy, and out of respect for the contractual commitments these individuals made, Grindr demands that these individuals remove their social media posts that include images from the Grindr platform."
This, unfortunately, isn't the first time the popular gay dating and hookup app has been used in dangerous ways by some of its users. Last year, authorities in Egypt were accused of using the app to identify queer folks for arrest and torture at the hands of police and the country’s National Security Agency.
Also last year, a teenager was tortured and left partially paralyzed by a Jeffrey Dahmer fan he met on Grindr. Chance Seneca, 19, allegedly attempted to strangle Holden White, who was 17 at the time, as well as amputate his hands.
"When I wake up, I am in his bathtub naked," White recalled earlier this year. "The water is running, and it's cold. He is in the process of doing my left wrist. He was slicing it like this and was very, very hard. It was to the point that he was basically trying to cut off my hands."
In March, a man pled guilty to false imprisonment, aggravated assault, and other charges for his role in a brutal, drug-frenzied torture of an elderly man that included the use of an electric drill, taser, pruning shears, knives and worse. Charlie Caire, 20, admitted to using the app to specifically target the man for assault. His brother, Brett Caire, 36, was also arrested for the horrific attack.
In May, police in Atlanta issued a warning about one and possibly up to three men using Grindr to lure gay men for robbery and assault, warning that at least eight gay men had been robbed, sometimes violently, after the conclusion of their first date.
And at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, The Daily Beast journalist Nico Hines, a straight man, wrote a controversial piece where he used Grindr to try to find LGBTQ+ athletes, outing them to the world. Hines issued an apology after facing backlash and was suspended from The Daily Beast for several months.
Out of respect for the athletes' privacy and concern for their safety, Out has chosen not to identify the accounts posting the videos.