Technology

Grindr removes 'ethnicity filter' after complaints

Grindr logo Image copyright Grindr
Image caption Grindr was launched in 2009

Dating and hook-up app Grindr says it will remove the "ethnicity filter" from the next version of its app, following years of criticism from its users.

The app currently lets people filter potential matches according to their age, height, weight and ethnicity.

But critics say the ethnicity filter fuels discrimination and that the app does too little to tackle racism.

Announcing the change, Grindr said it had a "zero-tolerance policy for racism and hate speech" on its platform.

Grindr specialises in dating for gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people.

Analysis

by Ben Hunte, LGBT correspondent

For years, LGBT people of colour have flagged the ethnicity filter as an issue - but they received no response from Grindr. Many even got blocked by the company.

Today, change happened.

But some are angry that it has only happened as a result of white people speaking up on social media. Indeed, the most-shared social media posts written to shame Grindr into action were posted by white gay men.

There are also LGBT people of colour who are disappointed that this change is happening at all.

Some have told me that they used the ethnicity filter to find people like themselves, perhaps not to date but for shared experiences and cultural understanding.

In some cases it was needed. In February, at a queer club night for Black and Asian people, one party-goer showed me how black men did not appear on his Grindr until the white men had been filtered out.

Grindr is not the only LGBT dating app to allow filtering by race. The spotlight will now move to others that have yet to take a similar stance.

On 29 May, Grindr had tweeted "Demand justice. #BlackLivesMatter", with a link to further information. This had prompted several users to accuse the company of hypocrisy.

One message saying "remove the ethnicity filter" was retweeted 1,000 times.

Grindr later deleted its own tweet and on 1 June posted a new message explaining its change of position.

Several companies have posted messages of their own featuring the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter following six consecutive days of protests across the United States. The events were sparked by the killing of George Floyd - a black man who died after a white officer continued kneeling on is neck even after he had pleaded that he could not breathe.

While some Grindr users welcomed the removal of the filter, others said the company had taken too long to implement the change, and had done the "bare minimum".

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