FRANCE24 - Gay dating app Grindr has disappeared from multiple app stores in China as authorities tighten control of the country's already heavily policed internet. Although China decriminalised homosexuality in 1997, same-sex marriage is illegal and LGBTQ issues remain taboo. Local Grindr competitors such as Blued remain available for download.
MONEY CONTROL - 'As You Are', an Indian social networking and matchmaking app, has raised $250K in Compulsorily Convertible Debentures (CCDs), from queer couples who are angel investors and also Indian-origin entrepreneurs from the marketing space. AYA launched in June 2020 and has ~25K downloads.
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DEALSTREETASIA - Chinese social media firm NewBorn Town is planning to set up a $100M fund with an aim to privatise BlueCity Holdings, the operator of Blued, the country's biggest LGBTQ dating app. BlueCity's founder, chairman, and CEO Baoli Ma currently holds a 30.4% stake in the firm, which means that the buyer group will need to purchase the remaining 69.6% stake, or ~25.9M ADSs, for ~$48M in total. BlueCity has formed an independent special committee to evaluate and consider the going-private proposal. BlueCity started trading on Nasdaq after a $85M IPO in July 2020. Blued, which serves over 60M registered users in 170 countries and regions, offers social networking, live streaming, and health-related services to the LGBTQ community.
GLOBE NEWSWIRE - BlueCity, a leading online LGBTQ platform, has received a preliminary non-binding proposal letter from Mr. Baoli Ma, founder & CEOof the company to acquire all of the outstanding ordinary shares of the company that are not already beneficially owned by the Buyer Group for a proposed purchase price of US$3.70 per Ordinary Share or US$1.85 per ADS in cash.
BUSINESS INSIDER - One of the biggest matchmaking platforms in India, Shaadi.com, is on a hunt for new business opportunities, according to the company's founder and CEO Anupam Mittal. Shaadi wants to launch two more products. "We are planning to launch something in January, which will tilt the entire industry on its head and open up a lot of avenues for us. This is a completely new way for finding a match," Mittal said without revealing further details. Mittal also said that the company will be looking forward to entering the matchmaking arena for the LGBTQ community or people living abroad.
PR NEWSWIRE - Blued connects 60m+ LGBTQ people worldwide, in 13 languages, across 170 countries. 'Flash' is a new event-based feature that enables users to connect in-person by opening their offline and online activities to fellow members. Already released in South Korea and Vietnam, the feature will be available in more markets in the coming festive seasons. Blued also launched Quick Chat, a live video speed dating feature, and Voice Chat Room, a vocal message feature that enables audio communications between multiple users.
ASSOCIATED PRESS - Norway's data privacy watchdog fined gay dating app Grindr $7.16M for sending sensitive personal data to hundreds of potential advertising partners without users' consent. In 2020, Norway's Consumer Council filed a complaint against Grindr for disclosing information about its users, including GPS locations, IP addresses, ages, gender and their use of the app, to several third parties for marketing purposes. That allowed users to be identified and third parties to potentially share personal information further.
CALIFORNIAHEALTHLINE - Building Healthy Online Communities (BHOC), an organization in the San Francisco Bay Area focused on HIV and STD prevention, has launched an effort to boost niceness on gay apps. Through surveys and focus groups, BHOC asked ~5K users of nine gay apps how the sites could support better online behavior related to race, appearance, HIV status, age, disability, gender identity and other factors. It also sought advice on technical improvements the apps could make, such as offering users greater flexibility in conducting searches for contacts. "We've had a non-bullying policy since day one," said David Lesage, marketing and social media director for Adam4Adam.
by David Tuller
See full article at California Healthline
BITTERWINTER - Gays in China are prohibited from talking about religion or expressing their religious beliefs on social networking apps that they usually use. If they try to do so, they will have their posts deleted or even their accounts blocked. Although Blued is famous for its success, it is less well-known that Blued explicitly prohibits religious content as a violation. Article 10 of the Blued Code of Conduct lists religion-related content as a "violation of Blued platform regulations," which list Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, religious associations, Buddhist studies, * churches, and other "prohibited words," and states that users who violate the regulations "will have their signatures, avatars and other information deleted."
by Chen Tao
See full article at BitterWinter
JURIST.ORG - The European Center for Digital Rights (Noyb) has filed a complaint against Grindr, alleging that the dating app violated the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). New users must confirm their identity. Grindr requires these users "to hold up a piece of paper with their email address, as well as their passport - all while balancing their phone to take a selfie." Noyb asserts that this additional requirement "is violation of the GDPR." Last year Grindr faced similar allegations when the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) accused Grindr of violating the GDPR after an NCC research report found that Grindr shared location and device information with other companies.
by Heidi Johnson
See full article at Jurist.org
JPOST - Two weeks ago, Black Shadow announced its hack of Cyberserve, which hosted Israeli dating app Atraf, and the hackers have been exposing personal information of LGBTQ clients of the website in waves. The state prosecution has succeeded in getting the Atraf website for LGBTQ dating permanently removed from the Internet as part of its ongoing battle against the hacker group.
JPOST - The hacking group leaked more data from gay dating app Atraf after its demand for ransom was not met within 48 hours. The hackers broke into web hosting company Cyberserve's servers and have since been threatening to release data from Atraf, as well as Dan bus company and tour booking company Pegasus, who were clients of Cyberserve's and had their data stored on their servers.
BLEEPING COMPUTER - The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns of scammers targeting the LGBTQ+ community via apps such as Grindr and Feeld. Fraudsters pose as potential romantic partners on LGBTQ+ dating apps, sending explicit photos and asking their targets to reciprocate. Victims are blackmailed to pay a ransom, usually in gift cards, under the threat of leaking the imagery. To make threats more credible scammers will state the names of exactly who they plan to contact (found online by using a phone number or social media profile) if victims don't pay up. The FTC advises LGBTQ+ dating apps users to avoid sharing explicit photos. Online dating platforms including Grindr and Feeld have also warned their users.
This warning comes after a similar one issued by the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) who has seen a massive increase in sextortion complaints since January 2021, leading to financial losses of over $8 million until the end of July. It received 16k+ sextortion complaints thru July 31, almost half of them from victims age 20-39. Victims should contact law enforcement, and file a complaint with the FBI IC3 immediately at www.ic3.gov.