Grindr removed its ethnicity filter this week in what the company says is a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The feature, which was part of the premium levels of the gay dating and hookup app, has been a point of criticism for a long time among users who have complained about race-based discrimination.
“We will continue to fight racism on Grindr, both through dialogue with our community and a zero-tolerance policy for racism and hate speech on our platform,” Grindr said in a statement.
“As part of this commitment, and based on your feedback, we have decided to remove the ethnicity filter from our next release.”
The statement followed a deleted tweet over the weekend from the brand that read “Demand Justice. #blacklivesmatter,” which many decried as a hypocritical gesture, given the platform’s built-in features allowing users to discriminate based on race.
Being filtered out isn’t the only way racism is reflected on the platform: A 2015 study found 96 per cent of Australian users had seen profiles containing statements like “not attracted to Asians” – and one in eight said they had made those statements themselves.
Last year, University of Illinois and Michigan researchers found that racism on queer dating apps had significant health impacts on men of colour, including depression and lower self-worth.
In response to user complaints, Grindr’s higher-ups launched a “Kindr” awareness campaign and vowed to crack down on discrimination, but put off removing the filter. “We decided before we were ready to pull the plug on that, it was a conversation we wanted with our user base,” a Grindr rep told the Guardian in 2018.
“While I believe the ethnicity filter does promote racist behaviour in the app, other minority groups use the filter because they want to quickly find other members of their minority community.”