Grindr is removing an “ethnicity filter” from its dating app as part of its support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the company announced on Monday.
The controversial feature, limited to those who stump up £12.99 a month for the premium version of the app, allows users to sort search results based on reported ethnicity, height, weight and other characteristics.
In a statement posted to Instagram, the company said “We stand in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the hundreds of thousands of queer people of color who log in to our app every day.
“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. As part of this commitment, and based on your feedback, we have decided to remove the ethnicity filter from our next release.?”
Grindr’s filter had come under intense criticism over the weekend after a now-deleted tweet from the company that read “Demand Justice. #blacklivesmatter”. Many condemned the company’s show of solidarity as hollow when taken alongside the existence of a feature that allows users to explicitly discriminate based on race.
The company has long maintained that the ethnicity filter was useful for minority users who wanted to find people like themselves, rather than enforce racism.
“We decided before we were ready to pull the plug on that, it was a conversation we wanted with our user base,” Grindr’s head of communications 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.”
Grindr isn’t the only dating app which allows users to filter by race, but it is by far the most prominent. Racial discrimination on the app isn’t simply enforced algorithmically, either; a 2015 study of Australian users found that 96% had seen at least one profile that included some form of racial discrimination, ‘through language such as “Not attracted to Asians.”’ One in eight of those surveyed admitted they themselves included such language.
The announcement came on the first day of Pride month, Grindr noted. “We can still come together in the spirit of Pride, but Pride this year has an added responsibility, a shifted tone, and a new priority that will be reflected in our programming – support and solidarity for queer people of color and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.”