On a “mobile dating app” where a homosexual might forgo a friendly “hello” in favor of an unsolicited “cock pic” to drum up a little conversation, users of Grindr have voiced concerns this week about privacy. That’s after BuzzFeed broke news that Grindr shared its users’ HIV status, intimate sexual details, and other sensitive information with third-party software vendors. Amid the backlash, Grindr said it would stop the practice.
Early Thursday morning, Grindr took to its own platform to send users a message from its Vice President of Social Impact. In a video statement, Jack Harrison-Quintana starts out with an apology from everyone “at the Grindr team for all the distress that we’ve caused over the last forty-eight hours.”
In the two-minute and forty-six-second video, Harrison-Quintana (who is also founder of Grindr for Equality) explains that the company only shared information about HIV-status with “trusted contractors” who help roll out new software features and updates.
“We have never and would never sell any user data, especially HIV information to advertisers or anyone else,” Harrison-Quintana said.
Since its launch in 2009, Grindr has grown quickly into “the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people.” More than three-million active users log onto the mobile app as many as eighteen times a day, spending an average of fifty-four minutes “connecting with other men in the area who want to chat and meet up.”
Last year, Grindr introduced a new profile feature apparently designed to address the “anxiety about bringing up sexual health in conversation.” Users may self-report HIV-status. Disclosure is completely optional. The company most recently announced a new feature that allows users to receive reminders to get screened for HIV and other STIs routinely every three or six months.