Grindr changes privacy settings to protect LGBTQ+ Olympic athletes

The decision was made to prioritise the safety of LGBTQ+ Olympic athletes competing in this year's games. 

Split screen: Olympic flag with five interlocked rings (left), close up of a phone with LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr logo on it (right).
Image: Via Pixabay and YouTube

Grindr has changed its privacy settings and removed the ‘Explore’ option to protect the LGBTQ+ athletes competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Although China decriminalised homosexuality in 1997, there is still very little protection for LGBTQ+ people today.

The decision was made based on the fear that LGBTQ+ athletes would face being outed through Grindr, persecuted or harassed as reported by Bloomberg. During last years much anticipated 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, some users took advantage of the ‘Explore’ feature on the app to browse through the Olympic Village and expose the profiles of queer athletes competing in the games on social media.

A TikTok surfaced last year with the user saying “I used Grindr’s Explore feature to find myself an Olympian boyfriend” as they scrolled through the profiles that were located in the Village. The video was later removed for violating TikTok community guidelines but the aftermath of its unwarranted attention has influenced Grindr to revise its privacy settings for this year’s games.

People who are located in or near the Olympic Village will be able to use Grindr throughout the duration of the Olympic games but their profiles will not be visible worldwide. Users logging into Grindr will now receive an on-screen notification that reads “Your privacy is important to us. Our Explore feature has been disabled in the Olympic Village so that people outside your immediate area can’t browse here.”

According to the director of Grindr for Equality Jack-Harrison-Quintana, “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.”

This is the first time Grindr has taken this action for the Olympic games, however, the app has disabled the ‘Explore’ option in the past for countries where being queer is illegal or considered unsafe.

Last year, the app was fined a whopping €6.5m for sharing personal information.

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