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Queer dating-apps need to protect their users.

Online dating and hookup apps have exploded in the past decade, and more and more users are going online to meet new people and find romantic partners.

For queer folks, these applications have an entirely different meaning than for heterosexual users. According to stigmatization within communities, apps have provided a sanctuary for LGBTQ people to safely interact with those in their surrounding areas in both private and personal ways.

Unfortunately, Grindr one of the most popular queer hookup and social networking apps has seriously abused their users’ confidential information. According to Huffington Post on April 3, Grindr acknowledged that they have shared client’s HIV status, including the date they were last tested, to two services intended to improve the apps’ marketing strategies – Apptimize and Localytics.

In a response, on Grindr’s Tumblr page, Scott Chen, the CTO wrote, “The inclusion of HIV status information within our platform is always regarded carefully with our users’ privacy in mind, but like any other mobile app company, we too must operate with industry standard practices to help make sure Grindr continues to improve for our community. We assure everyone that we are always examining our processes around privacy, security. and data sharing with third parties, and always looking for additional measure that go above and beyond industry best practices to help maintain our users’ right to privacy.”

With nearly 3.6 million users, this announcement has left queer users outraged. Grindr has since announced it will cease sharing HIV information with third-party vendors, but this places LGBTQ people at a heightened risk as unwanted companies gain access to this highly sensitive data.

This news also comes right around the same time that New Now Next reported “the Russian government has blocked one of the nation’s oldest and most popular LGBTQ websites, Gay.ru, claiming it violated the country’s anti-gay propaganda law.”

On March 30, Russian’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, served the site a ban notice saying it provided information that promotes non-traditional sexual relations.

Despite the site still being available in other countries, this outlawing of queer and LGBTQ network shows how queer dating forums across the world are being targeted and attacked–leaving their users isolated from their community and valuable information.

As more and more information becomes disseminated and the political climate grows ever tenser, queer dating apps and networks have to be capable of protecting their users, whether that be from advertising agencies or discriminatory governments.

These sites are where communities grow, publicly and privately, and have the ability to use platforms for promoting change. There needs to be more control in the hands of those who seek out these apps for everyday use and less on capitalist or anti-LGBTQ regimes.