Grindr is tightening privacy controls at the Olympic Village in Beijing. Bloomberg has learned the gay dating app is blocking people outside the Village from using the location-based Explore feature to find athletes in or near the area. The move is intended to protect athletes from harassment or stalking so they can “feel confident” about connecting during the Winter Olympics, said Grindr for Equality director Jack Harrison-Quintana.
Anyone using Grindr inside the Village will see a popup informing them that people outside the area cannot navigate the location using Explore. “Your privacy is important to us,” says Grindr in the alert. This is the first time Grindr has provided such a warning.
Previously, Grindr users on the go could find Olympic athletes through Explore. The openness has created a serious problem for athletes from countries that criminalize LGBTQ sexuality or have strong cultural prejudices against it. The question is more than just hypothetical – Internal grades TikTok and Twitter users found multiple dating profiles of athletes during the Tokyo Summer Olympics and an American news site withdrawn an article that found LGBTQ athletes during the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The potential for abuse was already somewhat limited after Grindr pulled its client from Apple’s App Store in China due to concerns about cross-border data regulations (the app itself remains functional). If all goes well, though, the move will allow gay athletes to connect during the Beijing Olympics without fearing what will happen when they return home.
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