Retrospective: Has Grindr really become Kindr?

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By Ricky B. Crook

Welcome to another episode in the ongoing saga of Grindr’s inclusivity/discrimination policy. Community members have pointed out the open discrimination they face as minorities on a day-to-day basis when using the popular gay social networking app.

Many have lived this story of prejudice for years, because everyone’s favorite location-based dating/hookup app has a monopoly in its respective territory. Perhaps this can shed light on a deeper problem that moves beyond a simple app, and fully exposes the issue of open racism among gay people.

Grindr is a platform form that feeds into blatant distaste and racial preference. However, as a big player in the lives of so many, the company must take more action to combat the hatred its users are spreading through profile bios which read, “No fats, no femmes,” and “Rice and beans not welcome.”

Campaign videos point out the atrocious words people hear while using the app. One user said a potential suitor told him he would never be loved due to his weight. Another user points out the blatant racism he has received as an Asian man who uses the app.  

But what has Grindr done so far to stop scenarios such as the ones mentioned? Have any of their policies helped propel a more accepting environment among its users?

Seven months ago, the company rolled out its first campaign in direct response to fiery battle among its users over discriminatory profiles. Kindr Grindr (appropriately missing the “e”) is a set of policy changes which supposedly will aid in a more open and accepting hookup or meeting culture for the apps customer base.

Some of the new policies are a bit empty in enforcement, just as most online regulations. A few of these rule changes, in theory and if executed properly, could do a lot of good for the app, such as the company’s zero tolerance stance on discrimination and its update to the nudity policy on profile photos. In contrast the emptiness to Grindr’s policy push is evident within just a few minutes of logging on.

After seven months of Grindr's policy overhaul, there are very few signs of any true changes taking place within the app. The zenith of this failure is that profiles are still proudly broadcasting their racial, weight, and even hair preferences.

An even bigger caveat to this story is the fact that Grindr's premium users are still fully capable of searching for people by race, age, height and body type. The use of these filters is a complete contradiction to what many believe to be a failed campaign in the first place.

In the end, maybe Grindr is not the worst entity in the fight against discrimination. At the very least the company does acknowledge the problems it helps feed into. Moreover, Grindr is still a great way for many gays to communicate with and find people in their community. This doesn't mean the app shouldn't take responsibility for the hate it feeds.

In retrospect, analysis does not lie. Grindr's policy rollout has done very little to aid the fight against discrimination among its users. Nothing has changed within the app in the past seven months since the policy update.

Regardless, this doesn't mean the fight is dead. Many people still dream of a day where advertising of racial preferences is frowned upon.

The Gayly 5/6/2019 2:04 p.m. CST