Grindr has finally realized love is love.
In support of the Black Lives Matter movement and national protests following the death of George Floyd, the gay dating app for men announced on social media yesterday that they plan to remove the “ethnicity filter” from their platform — a feature included in their paid premium service.
“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,” they wrote in a text-image shared on social media Monday. “We will not be silent, and we will not be inactive.” Floyd died May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis.
The company added that they were making donations to the Marsha P. Johnston Institute and Black Lives Matter.
“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,” they said.
The announcement was met with a mixed response, including surprise that an “ethnicity filter” feature ever existed in the first place.
“Wait you guys have an ETHNICITY filter? Who the hell approved THAT?” asked one person on Twitter.
Some followers of the matchmaking service praised the move, but pushed for more.
“Amazing. Please can we report profiles with ‘no blacks, no trans, no Asians’ in there [sic] profiles and you can deal with them quickly as you do sex workers?” one follower pleaded.
Still, social-media cynics called the move too little, too late, saying, “it only took [them] 11 years.”
“This is hilarious coming from the app that is notorious for being full of racism,” said one critic.
“‘In solidarity we are removing our racism button’ is the most tech company thing I could imagine,” added another.
The ethnicity filter has been a controversial aspect of Grindr’s service for years but remained even after the app launched an anti-racism campaign, dubbed #KindrGrindr, in 2018. At the time, Landen Zumwalt, Grindr’s former head of communications, told the Guardian that they were discussing the feature’s removal, but needed to get a better sense of the needs of their customers, adding that many minority members appreciate the filter for helping them connect with their peers.
“While I believe the ethnicity filter does promote racist behavior in the app, other minority groups use the filter because they want to quickly find other members of their minority community,” he said.
Grindr, which was recently sold for $608 million, is far from the only app that allowed users to search for people by race or ethnicity. Others include Hinge and the League. Amanda Bradford, CEO of the League, told the Verge last year that they had no intention of removing the filter for the same reason cited by Zumwalt.
Still, research shows that users are more likely to swipe left on people of color. For example, a 2014 OKCupid report studying users with their preferences set to look for members of the opposite sex found that women were much more likely to reject black or Asian matches. It also found that non-black men were more likely to reject black women. And since Grindr’s algorithms are designed to track and manifest users’ individual preferences, it’s not likely that people will find themselves matching with people of color if they aren’t already on a regular basis.