Grindr makes big privacy tweak for athletes at Beijing Winter Games

grindr beijing winter olympics olympic games athletes closeted
Images: Commons, Grindr

Grindr has made a change to privacy settings to protect athletes using the gay app in the Olympic Village at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games kicked off last week (February 4) in the Chinese capital and runs until February 20.

According to Outsports, at least 35 of the athletes competing are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, a new record high number.

And during the Games, Grindr says it’s preventing people anywhere in the world using the app’s “Explore” feature to navigate to the Olympic Village and seeing who’s online.

Users in the Olympic Village can still find one another, the company explained, but their profiles aren’t visible to people outside the location.

Grindr explains the change is “to protect the world’s top athletes from persecution or harassment.”

“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,” head of Grindr for Equality Jack Harrison-Quintan told Bloomberg.

During the Olympics, Grindr users are reportedly getting an on-screen alert explaining the change.

“Your privacy is important to us,” it reads.

“Our Explore feature has been disabled in the Olympic Village so that people outside your immediate area can’t browse here.

“Let the games begin.”

‘Explore’ function causes problems at Olympic Games

Last July, Grindr called out multiple TikTok users who were exposing queer athletes at the Tokyo Games.

They were using the “Explore” feature to find and share the athlete’s Grindr profiles.

The Grindr function also caused outrage at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

A journalist from news website The Daily Beast created a fake profile on the dating app to determine how many male athletes were on the platform.

The news website subsequently published an article widely slammed as homophobic that shared potentially identifying information about the athletes.

The Daily Beast later pulled the story and issued an apology.

According to Bloomberg, it’s the first time Grindr has disabled the “Explore” function for an Olympic games.

However the company has also done so in certain countries and regions where being identified as gay is illegal or high risk.

Grindr removed from app stores in China

Last month, Grindr disappeared from popular app stores in China, including Apple’s App Store. The app is still functioning in China.

The removal came shortly after China’s Cyberspace Administration announced a month-long crackdown on illegal and inappropriate online content.

Grindr didn’t publicly comment on the app’s removal.

However the New York Times reported the company did so over difficulties complying with new Chinese laws on transmitting consumer data outside the country.

Rival gay apps Blued and Aloha are still accessible for Chinese users.

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