As gay hookup apps proliferate worldwide, anti-gay regimes have become aware of their existence. In numerous reported incidents, victims’ phones have been searched for “proof” of homosexuality.
In response, Grindr is now offering an option for users in homophobic regions to change the icon on their phones to a different one, and to create a password preventing anyone else from activating it.
“Grindr will allow users to change the standard Grindr icon into an alternate, visually innocuous icon that has nothing to do with Grindr,” the company told GayStarNews. “For the safety of our users, we are unable to disclose what the new icon will look like. The icon and passcode options will be available to users later this year in select regions including the Middle East, Gulf Region, and North Africa.”
As various countries crack down on gay citizens, Grindr has worked to provide weekly, and sometimes daily, notifications and safety tips on avoiding police entrapment and reaching local LGBT resources.
“Ensuring the safety of our users worldwide is a top priority,” said Jack Harrison-Quintana, Director of Grindr for Equality.
The company partnered with Article 19, a global free speech organization, to make the modifications.
Article 19, which partnered with Grindr on the modifications, says the goal is ultimately to stop the persecution of LGBT people worldwide. “But these practical changes can help to reduce the impact of these repressive crackdowns,” Article 19’s Thomas Hughes explains. “[It proves] human rights groups and for profit businesses can work together to help mitigate human rights abuses.”
Launched in 2009, Grindr is available in 192 countries. It is now wholly owned by Beijing Kunlun Tech, a Chinese gaming company.