Grindr Modifies Privacy Settings for Beijing Olympics Athletes

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday February 8, 2022

Grindr has adjusted the privacy settings for people using the hookup app in the Olympic Village in Beijing: Users in the Village can see each other's profiles, but those outside the Village can't, Bloomberg reported.

The change "is designed to protect the world's top athletes from persecution or harassment," Bloomberg detailed, citing Grindr for Equality head Jack Harrison-Quintana, who said, "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."

"Ordinarily, Grindr users anywhere could use the 'Explore' function to find Olympics participants using the app, and during past games, people from outside used the feature to out athletes on social media and, in one case, in a mainstream American news outlet," the article detailed.

In the case of the "mainstream American outlet," during the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, The Daily Beast published an article titled "The Other Olympic Sport In Rio: Swiping." That article prompted an outcry, with Slate slamming the "stunt" as "disgusting and irresponsible," saying that the piece "out[ed] several closeted athletes who live in repressive countries".

The Daily Beast took the article down and posted an apology.

But things are different this time around.

"During the 2022 Olympics, Grindr users in and near the Olympic bubble will receive an on-screen alert that says: '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,'" Bloomberg reported.

"It's still possible to find users 'nearby' or searching recently added profiles," the piece added.

Though this is "the first time the company has done this for an Olympic games, Grindr has disabled the 'Explore' function for certain countries and regions where being gay is illegal or considered risky," the article went on to say.

Prior to the start of the Games, the Grindr app disappeared from the Apple and Android app stores in China — a development that follows an announced crackdown on internet content by the communist country's authorities. Local versions of the same service remained accessible, however.

A record number of at least 36 LGBTQ+ athletes are competing in this year's Winter Olympics. Last year's Games in Tokyo also featured a record number for the Summer Olympics, with at least 186 LGBTQ+ athletes competing openly, according to OutSports.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.