Grindr has modified its privacy settings to protect LGBTQ+ athletes at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
According to a report in Bloomberg, the popular gay dating and hookup app disabled its "Explore" feature within the Olympic Village. The feature allows users to explore the profiles of users in locations around the world. In the past, though, some folks, including one journalist, used the app to reveal the profiles of LGBTQ+ athletes, potentially threatening the safety of closeted athletes from countries with anti-LGBTQ+ laws and practices.
“We want Grindr to be a space where all queer athletes, regardless of where they’re from, feel confident connecting with one another while they’re in the Olympic Village,” Jack Harrison-Quintan, director of the Grindr for Equality department, said in a statement.
Visitors logging into Grindr from the Olympic Village now receive a message welcoming them to the Olympics, and advising them of the new privacy modifications.
“Your privacy is important to us,” the notification reads. “Our Explore feature has been disabled in the Olympic Village so that people outside your immediate area can’t browse here.”
Screenshot (via Bloomberg)
During last year’s 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, some users exploited the Explore feature to search the Olympic Village and then expose on social media the profiles of queer athletes, including at least one athlete from a country where same-sex sexual relations are illegal.
“I used Grindr’s Explore feature to find myself an Olympian boyfriend,” one TikTok 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.
“Don't put these peeps in jeopardy just to get off on the other side of the world,” one commenter posted, echoing the general response to the original poster.
At the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, journalist Nico Hines wrote a controversial piece for The Daily Best 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.
China technically legalized same-sex sexual relations, however, the country remains largely hostile to LGBTQ+ folks in many regions with few legal protections. A recent Grindr survey found China in the top five countries for the number of users who identify as bottoms and those who accept NSFW pics.
With word that Grindr has modified the privacy settings on its Explore feature, LGBTQ+ athletes can focus on competing and winning in the Olympic tradition, rather than worrying about their personal privacy.