Grindr restricts location features at the Beijing Olympic Village

Grindr is tightening privacy controls for the Olympic Village in Beijing. Bloomberg has learned the gay dating app is blocking people outside the Village from using the location-based Explore feature to find athletes in or near the area. The move is meant to protect athletes from harassment or persecution so they can “feel confident” connecting with each other during the Winter Olympic Games, Grindr for Equality director Jack Harrison-Quintana said.

Anyone who uses Grindr inside the Village will see a pop-up telling them people outside the area can’t browse the locale using Explore. “Your privacy is important to us,” Grindr says in the alert. This is the first time Grindr has provided such a notice.

Previously, Grindr users anywhere could find Olympians through Explore. The openness created a serious problem for athletes from countries that either criminalize LGBTQ sexuality or have strong cultural prejudices against it. The issue is more than just hypothetical – Insider notes TikTok and Twitter users found numerous athlete dating profiles during the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and an American news site retracted an article that found LGBTQ athletes during the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro.

The potential for abuse was already slightly limited after Grindr pulled its client from Apple’s App Store in China due to concerns about cross-border data regulations (the app itself remains functional). If all goes well, though, the measure will let gay athletes connect during the Beijing Olympics without fear what happens when they return home.

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