Grindr

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Grindr
Grindr Logo Black.svg
Original author(s)Joel Simkhai
Developer(s)Beijing Kunlun Tech
Initial releaseMarch 25, 2009; 11 years ago (2009-03-25)
Stable release
6.2.1 / February 17, 2020; 44 days ago (2020-02-17)
Operating systemiOS, Android
TypeGeosocial networking
Websitegrindr.com

Grindr (/ˈɡrndər/) is a geosocial networking and online dating application geared towards gay, bi and trans people.[1] 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 smartphones 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 apps to launch in the iTunes App Store and has since become the largest and most popular gay mobile app in the world. It is currently available in 192 countries.[2][3]

History[edit]

Under original ownership (2009–2015)[edit]

Grindr was launched as an iOS mobile app on March 25, 2009 by tech entrepreneur Joel Simkhai in Los Angeles, California.[4] The free version displayed 100 profiles of nearby men, while a $2.99 version (plus a monthly fee) contained no advertising and broadened the dating pool to 200 guys.[5] Cautious but generally positive reviews about the app circulated through the gay blogosphere on sites such as Queerty[6] and Joe My God.[7] By August 2009, there were 200,000 total users in Grindr's network.[5] By March 2010, there were 500,000.[8]

For its first anniversary on March 25, 2010, Grindr released the app for BlackBerry devices.[8]

In January 2011, Grindr won the iDate Award for Best Mobile Dating App.[9]

On March 7, 2011, Grindr launched the app for Android devices. Along with a free version, users could pay $4.97 for a premium version of the app that featured no banner ads, more profiles to choose from, more "favorites," and push notifications of messages received while the app is running in the background.[10]

In January 2012, Grindr won TechCrunch's Crunchies Award for Best Location Application and two iDate Awards for Best Mobile Dating App and Best New Technology.[11][12] In April 2012, Grindr won the About.com Readers' Choice Award for Best Dating App, after 74 percent of readers chose Grindr over Zoosk, SKOUT, Tagged, Tingle, and Are You Interested. In May 2012, the 2012 Webby Awards named Grindr an Official Honoree in its "Social (Handheld Devices)" category.[13] Fewer than 15% of entries submitted to the Webby Award committee that year received the Official Honoree distinction, which recognizes the best in Internet content, services, and commerce.[14]

On June 18, 2012, Grindr announced that it had officially hit 4 million registered users in 192 countries across the globe.[15]

In August 2013, Grindr released an updated version of the app requiring users to verify their accounts by providing a valid email address. Grindr says this was done to reduce spam and improve portability. Critics argued it stripped the app of its anonymity.[16]

On September 30, 2013, Grindr released version 2.0 and began rolling it out on iOS and Android. The redesigned user interface brought stability improvements, a new automatic scrolling feature, larger grid images, and a unified chat inbox. Grindr also introduced a new profile field called Grindr Tribes, allowing users to identify themselves with a niche group and filter their searches to find their type. 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 Looking For.[17]

As of Grindr's fifth anniversary on March 25, 2014, the app was averaging more than 5 million active monthly users worldwide.[18]

Post acquisition (2016–)[edit]

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.[19]

By 2017, the app was averaging 3.6 million daily users.[20]

Kunlun purchased the remainder of the company for $152 million in January 2018.[21]

In March 2018, Grindr announced it would be introducing a new feature that, if opted into, sends the user a reminder every three to six months to get an HIV test. It also planned to advise users on the nearest location for testing.[22]

In August 2018, Grindr's parent company Kunlun Group granted permission for an initial public offering.[21]

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.[23] This also led Kunlun to halt its plans for an IPO for Grindr.[24]

In January 2020, an Italian app development firm named Bending Spoons offered $260 million to purchase Grindr from Kunlun Tech.[25]

In March 2020, Kunlun announced that it will sell its 98.59% stake in Grindr to U.S.-based San Vicente Acquisition LLC for $608.5 million.[26] Grindr’s senior management and core employees will continue to hold 1.41% of the company’s shares after the transaction.[27]

Grindr for Equality[edit]

In February 2012, Grindr formed Grindr for Equality (G4E), a geotargeted political service designed to raise awareness of LGBT equality issues. Ahead of the 2012 U.S. elections, it encouraged users to register to vote and provided information about pro-LGBT candidates in their areas.[28]

Now an international LGBTQ health and human rights program, G4E granted a total of $100,000 in November 2019 to organizations and activists providing direct services and advocacy to the LGBTQ communities throughout the Middle East and North Africa.[29]

Criticism[edit]

Poor tech support[edit]

The Android version of Grindr has a substantial number of negative reviews stemming from unresolved technical issues. The app has a 3.5 star rating on Google Play as of January 2015.

Hacking[edit]

In January 2012, a vulnerability in the app's security software 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.[30]

Location triangulation[edit]

In August 2014, it was reported that Grindr's relative distance measurements could facilitate triangulation thereby pinpointing individual users.[31] A proof of concept has been published and more than 2 million detections were performed within a few days.[32] One unauthorized client allows any logged in user to pinpoint other users' exact location.[33] After public protest from the LGBT community and the appearance of reports that the Egyptian police uses Grindr to locate gay people,[34] Grindr responded and globally disabled distance display.[35][dubious ] As of May 10, 2015, distance display has been re-enabled and location pinpointing is still possible.[citation needed]

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.[36] By exploiting a novel attack model called colluding-trilateration introduced by the group,[37] 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.

Offensive speech[edit]

Grindr has been criticized for not taking sufficient action to prevent the display of offensive, racist, and homophobic language by some users.[38][39] 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."[40]

Data privacy[edit]

In April 2018 a Norwegian non-profit organization called SINTEF reported that Grindr's data bundles sent to third-party companies could potentially contain users' HIV status. This discovery is generating conversation about Grindr's privacy policy as a whole.[41][42][43]

Public health[edit]

Censorship in anti-gay countries[edit]

The app is partially or entirely blocked in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates,[44] Indonesia[45] and Lebanon[46] and has been used by authorities in Egypt to track and arrest gay men.[47]

Crimes by users[edit]

Murder[edit]

In December 2019, the mutilated body of Kevin Bacon, a 25-year-old hairstylist from Swartz Creek, Michigan, was found hanging from the ceiling in the home of a man he met on Grindr. The alleged murderer, who has mental health issues, said he cut off and ate Bacon's testicles.[48]

Blackmail and extortion[edit]

Several cases of criminals using Grindr to honeytrap gay people, followed by blackmail, extortion and assault have been reported.[49][50][51][52][53] [54]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About us | Grindr". www.grindr.com. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  2. ^ "The Co-Founder Behind Gay Social App Grindr Opens Up About Success, Sanity and Happiness". April 1, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  3. ^ "CEO OF GRINDR ON THE POWER OF SIMPLICITY AND BECOMING AN UNINTENTIONAL ACTIVIST". January 24, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  4. ^ Kincaid, Jason (March 25, 2009). "Gay Dating Makes Its Way To The iPhone". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  5. ^ a b LaVallee, Andrew (August 17, 2009). "App Watch: Grindr Says It's More Than a Hook-Up Service". The Wall Street Journal. News Corp. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  6. ^ "Cruise Local Guys On Your iPhone". Queerty. March 26, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  7. ^ "Q: Location? A: Right Behind You, Dude". Joemygod.blogspot.com. March 26, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  8. ^ a b "GRINDR Adds More Guys With New App for Blackberry". South Florida Gay News. March 25, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  9. ^ "Grindr Named 'Best Mobile Dating Site' at 2011 iDate Awards". Grindr. January 24, 2011. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  10. ^ Van Grove, Jennifer (March 7, 2011). "Popular Gay Dating App Grindr Now on Android". Mashable. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  11. ^ "Crunchies 2011 – San Francisco – January 31, 2012". TechCrunch. January 31, 2012. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  12. ^ "Grindr Recognized as Winner of TechCrunch Crunchies Awards and 2012 iDate Awards – LOS ANGELES, Feb. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/". Prnewswire.com. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  13. ^ "2012 Social (Handheld Devices) winners". Webby Awards. International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  14. ^ "16TH ANNUAL WEBBY AWARDS OFFICIAL HONOREE SELECTIONS: Mobile". Webby Awards. International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  15. ^ Carmody, Sarah. "Grindr's Global Dominance Hits 2m". bent News. bent. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  16. ^ Newton, Casey (July 26, 2013). "Overrun by spambots, gay dating app Grindr to end anonymous signups". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  17. ^ "The New Grindr: Zero Feet Away". prnewswire. September 30, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  18. ^ "Grindr Turns Five!". Queer Me UP. March 26, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  19. ^ "Chinese Gaming Firm Buys 60% Of Gay Dating App Grindr For $93M". TechCrunch. January 12, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  20. ^ "Grindr Information, Statistics, Facts and History". DatingSitesReviews.com. February 11, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Grindr planning stock market listing as Chinese owner gives approval for float". The Independent. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  22. ^ Jr, Donald G. McNeil (March 26, 2018). "Grindr App to Offer H.I.V. Test Reminders". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  23. ^ "Exclusive: Told U.S. security at risk, Chinese firm seeks to sell..." Reuters. March 27, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  24. ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-grindr-m-a-exclusive-idUSKCN1R809L
  25. ^ "From 'Kànzhe?' to 'Guardare?' – Grindr's New Owner May Be Italian". WEHOville. January 22, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  26. ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-grindr-m-a-investors-exclusive/grindrs-chinese-owner-says-to-sell-social-media-app-for-608-million-idUSKBN20T0IR
  27. ^ https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2020-03-06/grindr-sold-by-chinese-owner-after-us-national-security-concerns
  28. ^ Snow, Justin (October 22, 2012). "Grindr's Political Bedfellows". Metro Weekly. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  29. ^ "Grindr for Equality Announces Middle East-North Africa Grant Winners". PR Newswire. Cision. November 21, 2019. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  30. ^ Allen, Danny (January 20, 2012). "Some Sydney Grindr Accounts Reportedly Hacked". Gizmodo Australia. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  31. ^ Avari, Jamshed (August 20, 2014). "Alleged Grindr Security Flaw Exposes Exact Location Data, Endangers Users". Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  32. ^ "GrindrMap". Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  33. ^ "Fuckr". Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  34. ^ "EGYPTIAN COPS USING GRINDR TO HUNT GAYS". August 31, 2014. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  35. ^ Mowlabocus, Sharif (September 8, 2014). "Grindr's locator 'glitch' was a major fail. It revealed the company's lack of empathy for its gay users". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  36. ^ Greenberg, Andy (May 20, 2016). "Gay Dating Apps Promise Privacy, But Leak Your Exact Location". Wired Magazine. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  37. ^ HOANG, Nguyen Phong (May 15, 2016). "Your Neighbors Are My Spies: Location and other Privacy Concerns in GLBT-focused Location-based Dating Applications". ResearchGate. IEEE ICACT. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  38. ^ Woo, Jamie (June 28, 2013). "Open Letter to Grindr Users: I Am Not Rice, He Is Not Curry". The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  39. ^ Shield, Andrew (June 2018). "'Looking for north Europeans only': Identifying Five Racist Patterns in an Online Subculture" (PDF). KULT. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  40. ^ "WATCH //Israeli founder of Grindr talks about growing up gay and coming out to his family – Culture".
  41. ^ Ghorayshi, Azeen & Ray, Sri (April 2, 2018). "Grindr Is Sharing The HIV Status Of Its Users With Other Companies". BuzzFeed. Retrieved April 2, 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  42. ^ https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/02/grindr-sends-hiv-status-to-third-parties-and-some-personal-data-unencrypted/
  43. ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-grindr-exclusive/exclusive-behind-grindrs-doomed-hookup-in-china-a-data-misstep-and-scramble-to-make-up-idUSKCN1SS10H
  44. ^ "Unable to access Grindr due to government block". Grindr. Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  45. ^ Joseph Mccormick (September 10, 2016). "Indonesia wants to ban Grindr and 18 other gay apps".
  46. ^ Richard Hall (May 28, 2019). "Lebanon blocks Grindr in latest attack on LGBT+ community". The Independent.
  47. ^ Culzac, Natasha (September 17, 2014). "Egypt's police 'using social media and apps like Grindr to trap gay people'". The Independent. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  48. ^ "What we know so far about the grisly slaying of Kevin Bacon".
  49. ^ https://timesofindia.com/city/agra/gang-befriends-boy-on-lgbt-app-kidnaps-him-in-mathura/articleshow/71140793.cms
  50. ^ https://theprint.in/featured/behind-grindr-india-lies-a-world-of-sexual-assualt-rape-and-blackmail/76538/
  51. ^ https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/corporate-bosses-fall-prey-to-honeytraps-on-gay-dating-app/story-tBFrqybCm5kwgVggemxZxJ.html
  52. ^ https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/gay-men-in-india-reveal-terrifying-tales-of-rapes-and-extortion-on-dating-app-grindr-1884845.html
  53. ^ https://factordaily.com/inside-grindr-users-spill-good-bad-ugly-sexy-scary-secrets-gay-hookup-app/
  54. ^ https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/exec-was-robbed-given-electric-shock-for-refusing-to-have-sex-pay-for-liquor/articleshow/71141493.cms

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]