|Initial release||March 25, 2009|
5.8.0 / May 3, 2019
|Operating system||iOS, Android|
Grindr (//) is a geosocial networking and online dating application geared towards gay, bi and trans people. It runs on iOS and Android and is available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Grindr comes in both free and subscription-based versions (the latter called Grindr Xtra). The app makes use of a mobile device's geolocation, a feature of smart phones and other devices, which allows users to locate other users who are nearby. This is accomplished through a user interface that displays a grid of representative photos of men, arranged from nearest to furthest away. Tapping on a picture will display a brief profile for that user, as well as the option to chat, send pictures, and share one's precise location.
Grindr was one of the first gay geosocial app to launch in the iTunes App Store and has since become the largest and most popular gay mobile app community in the world. It is currently available in 192 countries.
Grindr was launched on March 25, 2009 by Brian Keller. Initially, cautious but positive remarks circulated through the gay blogosphere on sites such as Queerty and Joe My God. Though based in the United States, the app quickly gained worldwide popularity through word of mouth and various media outlets. On June 18, 2012, Grindr announced that it had officially hit 4 million users in 192 countries across the globe. As of early 2018, it reaches 196 countries and has 3.6 million users online on a daily basis. Beyond the U.S. and Australia, founder Joel Simkhai has reported activity in countries as far as Iran, Iraq and Kazakhstan. As of July 2016, the United States hosts the highest number of Grindr users with 4,258,056, while in 2015 London topped the list of cities with 698,252.
In January 2011, Grindr won the award for "Best Mobile Dating App" at the iDate Awards 2011. Grindr announced in March 2011 that a straight version of the application was under development temporarily titled Project Amicus. On September 8, 2011, Grindr launched Blendr, a similar app for people of all sexual orientations, with additional features intended to facilitate non-sexual friendships.
In January 2012, Grindr announced it was named the winner of TechCrunch's 2011 Crunchies Award for Best Location Application at the Fifth Annual Crunchies Awards Ceremony in San Francisco at Davies Symphony Hall. Separately, Grindr was crowned the winner of the 2012 iDate Awards in two of the 12 categories for Best Mobile Dating App and Best New Technology at the ninth annual Dating Industry & Internet Dating Conference in Miami. In April 2012, Grindr announced that About.com's readers named Grindr the Best Dating App for the 2012 About.com Readers' Choice Awards, with 74 percent of readers choosing Grindr over Are You Interested, SKOUT, Tagged, Tingle and Zoosk. In 2011, About.com added the Best Dating App category, and out of all the nominees, Grindr is the only exclusively gay app to be nominated – not to mention the first gay app to win the title of Best Dating App.
Additionally, both Grindr and Blendr were selected as Official Honorees of the 2012 Webby Awards for award-winning work in the Social (handheld devices) category. Out of nearly 10,000 entries received from all 50 US states and over 60 countries, the Official Honoree distinction is awarded only to the top 15% of all work entered that exhibits remarkable achievement. In August 2013, Grindr released an updated version of the app which requires users to create an account. Grindr says this was done to reduce spam and improve portability. This new version also adds iPhone 5 screen support, so users on newer iOS devices such as the iPhone 5 no longer see black bars along the top and bottom of the screen when using the app.
On September 30, 2013, Grindr released version 2.0 and began rolling it out on the iOS and Android. The user interface has been redesigned and brings stability improvements, a new endless scrolling feature, larger grid images and a unified chat inbox. Grindr also introduced an added filter called Grindr Tribes, allowing users to identify themselves with a niche group and narrow their searches to help find their type of man. Grindr Tribes include: Bear, Clean-cut, Daddy, Discreet, Geek, Jock, Leather, Otter, Poz, Rugged, Trans and Twink. In addition to Tribes, Grindr users can also filter by Age and Looking For.
As of Grindr's fifth anniversary on March 25, 2014, the app had achieved more than 10 million user downloads and had more than 5 million active monthly users worldwide. In January 2016, Grindr announced that it sold a 60% stake in the company to a Chinese gaming company, Beijing Kunlun Tech, for $93 million.
Grindr reached 27 million users in 2017.
In order to fight the spread of HIV, Grindr announced in March 2018 to be introducing a new software that, if opted into, sends a reminder every three to six months to get a HIV test. It will also advise on the nearest venue for testing.
In March 2019, Kunlun started seeking for a buyer of Grindr after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) informed Kunlun that having the app owned by a Chinese company poses a national security risk.
Grindr for Equality
In 2012, the operators of Grindr used the service to deliver "Grindr for Equality," geotargeted information about political campaigns and the views of candidates on LGBT-related issues.
Controversy and criticism
Technical issues and software vulnerability issue
The Android version of Grindr has a substantial number of negative reviews stemming from unresolved issues, but has increased to a 3.5 star rating, as of January 2015. In August 2013, Grindr released an update that requires users to verify their accounts by providing a valid email address and creating a password to resolve user issues.
In January 2012, a software vulnerability potentially exposed the personal details of hundreds of thousands of users. Grindr subsequently commenced legal action and pursued software changes to block the site responsible. The site impacted a small number of primarily Australian Grindr users and it remains shut down.
In August 2014, it was reported that Grindr's relative distance measurements could facilitate triangulation thereby pinpointing individual users. A proof of concept has been published and more than 2 million detections were performed within a few days. One unauthorized client allows any logged in user to pinpoint other users' exact location. After public protest from the LGBT community and the appearance of reports that the Egyptian police uses Grindr to hunt gay people, Grindr responded and globally disabled distance display.[dubious ] As of May 10, 2015, distance display has been re-enabled and location pinpointing is still possible.
In May 2016, a group of computer scientists from Kyoto University had demonstrated to Andy Greenberg at Wired magazine how location pinpointing is still possible even when the "show distance" feature is disabled. By exploiting a novel attack model called colluding-trilateration introduced by the group, locating any targeted user becomes a very easy and cheap task without employing any hacking technique. The attack model not only works with Grindr but also with Jack'd and Hornet, or any LBS app that shows photos of nearby users in order of proximity.
Grindr has been criticised for not taking sufficient action to prevent the display of offensive, racist, and homophobic language by some users. In 2014, when asked about offensive and racist speech on Grindr, the app's creator Joel Simkhai said in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he "didn't like it" but he "[isn't] a sixth grade teacher" and it "[isn't his] job to police such things."
Data privacy issue
A study conducted by a gay psychiatrist, Jack Turban, suggests that Grindr reinforces the psychological concept of variable-ratio reinforcement. The study suggests that similar to gambling or playing the lottery, a Grindr user is "rewarded" when their intentions and/or goals are met through the messaging featuring within the app (typically a sexual encounter). After engaging in an unpredictable amount of message threads before eventually achieving the sexual encounter, the user is reinforcing the belief that they will receive a "reward" for engaging in numerous messages with other users. This habit can become addictive especially to users that experience patterns of sex addiction in order to seek euphoria, avoid external stressors, or interpersonal problems.
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