Grindr removed from Chinese app stores ahead of Winter Olympics

4 Feb 2022

Image: © vladim_ka/Stock.adobe.com

The popular gay dating app was no longer available from Apple’s App Store in China last week.

Dating platform Grindr has reportedly vanished from multiple app stores in China as the country cracks down on online content ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which kicks off today (4 February).

A top Chinese cyber watchdog has been on a campaign this year to remove sensitive content from China’s internet ahead of the international sporting event and the Lunar New Year holiday.

Future Human

The Cyberspace Administration of China has been removing what it considers to be illegal and inappropriate content, such as online rumours, pornography and superstitions, to help ensure a “healthy, festive and auspicious online environment”, NBC reports.

Grindr’s removal is reported to have begun last week, two days after the Chinese watchdog said it would renew its campaign.

According to data from mobile research firm Qimai, the popular gay dating app was no longer available from Apple’s Chinese App Store on Thursday 27 January. Searches on Android and similar stores operated by Chinese companies also turned up no results, the Guardian reports, while Google’s Play Store is unavailable in the country.

While homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997, some government policies have been intolerant of the LGBTQ+ community and there have been issues with content featuring same-sex relationships being censored.

But The New York Times reports that executives with Grindr pulled it from Apple’s App Store in China over concerns about new data regulations in the country.

The tech industry has been feeling the wrath of more stringent Chinese regulation over the past year. Days after tech company Alibaba was hit with a $2.8bn fine in 2021, its fintech affiliate Ant Group agreed to restructure as a financial holding company.

Last April, 13 of China’s biggest tech companies were ordered by officials to follow stricter finance rules as Chinese authorities took a deeper look at the wider fintech and financial services space. In July, Chinese regulators demanded the ride-hailing app Didi be removed from app stores, days after a successful IPO launch in New York.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com