"The ethnicity filter has always seemed to me like a symbol of Grindr's silent complicity"
Forbes reports that gay dating app Grindr is removing its “ethnicity filter” in an upcoming update.
The announcement comes amid protests across the US in response to the murder of African American man George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin.
In a statement, Grindr said, “racism has no place in our community. We listened and we will continue to fight racism on Grindr, both through dialogue with our community and a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech on our platform.”
However, some activists were not impressed by the move, critiquing the company’s past apathetic attitude towards discrimination.
“The ethnicity filter has always seemed to me like a symbol of Grindr’s silent complicity in allowing racism to be perpetuated on the platform,” LGBT+ campaigner Alexander Leon said.
“Those seeking to sift black and brown men out of their potential dating pool feel empowered to do so knowing that the app gives them this functionality. In that respect, I’m glad they’ve removed it.”
“It’s helped normalize the idea that white people’s racial ‘preferences’ in dating are legitimate. And not the result of discriminatory social conditioning that idealises eurocentric beauty.”
Leon also expressed frustration that PoCs will no longer be able to connect with other PoCs without the filter.
“Many men of colour I’ve spoken to feel frustrated at the removal of this filter too. It has taken away their opportunity to connect with other men of colour on the app, in an interaction in which they’re much less likely to experience racism.”
“I’d like to see Grindr develop tools for ethnic minorities to have a safe space on the app. Ways to interact in a way that doesn’t incorporate the existence of a filter which white people can abuse.”
Meanwhile, an investor group that is lined up to buy Grindr Inc may have personal links to the app’s current owner China’s Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd.
The Chinese owners were forced to sell the app due to US government’s concerns about national security.
In response to the allegations regarding their new owner’s link to China, Grindr said:
“The buyers for Grindr were selected after an extensive and unbiased bidding process that complied fully with all applicable regulations, as the receipt of all necessary approvals – including CFIUS – demonstrates. Any claims or suggestions to the contrary are simply false.”