Grindr has taken steps to protect the privacy of those attending the 2022 Winter Olympics, after athletes were outed on social media during the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.
The gay dating app’s “Explore” feature, which lets users select a location and view profiles in the vicinity, was exploited during last year’s Summer Games.
Multiple videos were uploaded to TikTok and Twitter showing profiles of Grindr users in Tokyo’s Olympic Village, where the athletes stay during the Olympics.
Athletes’ faces were shown, as was their identifying information, with at least one profile featuring an athlete from a country with anti-LGBTQ laws, putting them in danger.
At the time, Grindr slammed those who were mistreating the Explore feature, calling the videos a breach of the company’s terms and conditions and demanding that they be removed from social media.
Apparently preempting a similar issue during this year’s Winter Olympics, Bloomberg reports that Grindr has adjusted its Explore feature to prevent it being exploited by those outside the Olympic Village.
For the duration of the games, athletes staying in Beijing’s Olympic Village will be able to find one another on Grindr, but Explore has been disabled within the village, preventing those outside from viewing the athletes’ profiles.
A message now appears to those accessing Grindr from inside the Olympic Village welcoming them to the Olympics and announcing the new privacy feature.
“Your privacy is important to us,” Grindr’s privacy update states. “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.”
Jack Harrison-Quintana, director of Grindr for Equality, told Bloomberg that Grindr wants “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.”
Grindr featured in a heavily criticized Daily Beast article in which journalist Nico Hines exposed profile information for a number of athletes at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In the article, Hines used Grindr, Tinder and other apps to see which athletes were online and looking for sex in the Athletes Village in Rio.
Hines, who is straight, messaged various athletes (predominantly male and gay). He then shared their information, including participating sport and home nation, in his article — information that would have easily identified the athletes to anyone on their team.
Daily Beast ultimately deleted the article after uproar on social media and issued an apology to those athletes who “may have been inadvertently compromised by our story.”
A record number of out LGBTQ athletes are currently competing in the Winter Olympics in Beijing, with at least 35 openly LGBTQ athletes hailing from 14 countries.
Bisexual Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst has already set an Olympic record at the games, after becoming the first Olympian to win gold medals at five separate games.
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