Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 46 / 16 November 2017
 

Jack'd goes after Grindr for alleged racism

NEWS


A screenshot from Jack'd's recent YouTube video highlighting racism in the world of online hookup apps. Photo: Courtesy YouTube
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In a new YouTube video, gay dating app Jack'd claims that 37 percent of Americans identify as black, Hispanic, Latino, or Asian.

"You see them on Jack'd, do you see them on Grindr?" the video asks.

Grindr, the most popular of the gay hookup apps, has repeatedly come under fire for allowing its members to post things like "No Blacks, no Asians," in their profiles.

"Your dating preferences are actually racist," continues the Jack'd video, referring to Grindr. "We will be the generation that ends racism."

The video was created by Alon Rivel, who serves as director of global marketing for Jack'd. Rivel, who is a 29-year-old gay man, told the Bay Area Reporter that an African-American who works with Jack'd got "eww ... you're black" as a response on Grindr.

"We need, as a community, to be better because we are all minorities," said Rivel, who is an Israeli-American Caucasian. "It's one thing to not want to respond to someone because you're not attracted to them, but to outwardly say it is unacceptable. People of color experience this every day – it impacts their self-worth. On Jack'd we don't tolerate this. We are known as a safe space for people of color."

Shaun Haines, a gay African-American man, told the B.A.R. that when he reached out to a Grindr profile, the response was "I don't fuck the [N-word]."

Grindr told the B.A.R. that its policy is not to allow for such behavior on the site.

"Grindr recognizes that sexual racism is a larger problem within our community and impacts all dating apps, not just Grindr," Peter Sloterdyk, vice president of marketing for Grindr, said in a statement. "We prohibit the use of offensive or racist language and encourage our community to report offending profiles through our app's built-in system. We take these reports seriously and respond to them by censoring or banning offending profiles. We consistently look for ways of improving the Grindr experience and do so through ongoing conversations with LGBT community organizations via Grindr For Equality, a holistic program at Grindr that works to promote justice, health, safety, and more for LGBTQ individuals around the globe."

Grindr publicist Jeff Koo told the B.A.R. that the company would not comment further on the subject.

Haines said that he takes issue with Grindr's claim that it takes action regarding offensive responses.

"Reporting the incident to Grindr, unfortunately, didn't result in much action," Haines said. "I received a standard response from their legal team. I believe at the time that I had begun to advocate that the platform begin to implement mechanisms to protect its users from harassment and support the process of resolving issues of identity verification. I still believe these networks should be tasked with identity verification as a valuable resource to resolving any crimes committed through these platforms."

Rivel said that Jack'd's YouTube video was made to highlight Grindr's influence in the gay hookup market; the site says it has millions of daily users.

"I never set out to say anything bad about Grindr," said Rivel. "But Grindr is influential and needs to do better. We're the underdog and we're trying to do better."

According to Rivel, Jack'd has 1.2 million members, with 450,000 daily active users. Thirty percent are black, 25 percent are Asian, and 25 percent are Latino/mix/other.

"We're the most diverse dating app, and also the youngest," he said. "Eighty percent of our members are under 26."

Rivel added that Jack'd has suspended or deleted accounts for hate speech.

"In terms of how many, it really varies depending on how many users report such activity to customer service," he explained. "Overall we do see a very low occurrence of this type of behavior on Jack'd."

Rivel declined to reveal the types of language Jack'd has seen.

"We will not reiterate hate speech or anything negative that a user has said or negatively been subjected to by another user on the app," he said. "It is very uncommon for us to get reports of hate speech or racism occurrences on Jack'd as our user base knows that we do not tolerate it and that this platform is safe for everyone regardless of who they are or where they come from."






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