The parent company of location-based gay dating apps Jack’d and Scruff announced yesterday it will disable its ethnicity filter in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Perry Street Software, the largest LGBTQ+ owned and operated software company, had already removed ethnicity as a default display option on profiles. The company did not indicate when the changes will take place.
“We recognize that awareness is not a substitute for action, and so we call on our community to do what it does best: organize, fight oppression, and create change.”
The move comes as the country is wracked with large protests in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last month. As Pride month begins, many in the LGBTQ+ are joining the front lines of protests in solidarity, and yesterday’s announcement noted the shared history of suffering at the hands of lawless police.
“As this week marks the beginning of Pride month, we remind our community that the origins of this celebration, the historic Stonewall Riots of 1969, were a response to police brutality," the company wrote in an email. "It is because of these riots that LGBTQ+ Americans enjoy many of the rights we have today. Many of this movement’s most outspoken leaders were Black, brown and trans people who fought for their community’s civil rights at large.”
The move comes on the heels of a similar announcement by Grindr, which had been the subject of at least one lawsuit regarding race. Multiple studies have shown that the overwhelmingly toxic user experience for many queer people of color who use the app has been detrimental to their mental health and self-esteem.
Jack’d and Scruff also announced they will make donations to Color of Change and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, although the company did not announce how much was to be donated. They also recommitted themselves “to continue to make product improvements that address racism and unconscious bias across our apps.” They also announced continued “aggressive moderation of content that is racist, hateful or bigoted” in compliance with their zero-tolerance policy.
Jack’d, an app that is overwhelmingly used by people of color, agreed to pay $240,000 to 7,000 users in a settlement with the New York attorney’s office for their negligence with the sensitive data after a loophole allowed people to access private often nude photos. This followed their acquisition by then-competitor Scruff. The move made parent-company Perry Street Software the largest LGBTQ+ owned and operated software company.
“For years, we have admired the diverse and global community of Jack’d,” Eric Silverberg, CEO of Perry Street Software said in a press release at the time. The newly purchased app markets itself as the most diverse of dating and hook-up apps targeted at the LGBTQ+ community, boasting more than 5 million users, 50 percent of whom are in Asia. “This acquisition will provide Jackd’d members with the same combination of technology and active moderation we have developed at SCRUFF, so that the Jack’d community members will be protected against harassment, spam bots, scammers, and risks while traveling.”
Yesterday’s announcement focused on the apps’ commitment to the Black Lives Matters movement, rather than on the recent past, and indicated that further moves and announcements will be forthcoming.
“For those in our community who are looking to take action, we will be sharing resources, reading lists, and relevant organization in our stories and in the apps in the days to come.”
The company also made it clear where they stand in the current battles against injustice and racism.
"We stand in solidarity with the fight against systemic racism and historic oppression of the Black community. Black Lives Matter."