Gay dating app Grindr has announced plans to remove its “ethnicity filter” when the platform is next updated.
The controversial feature is included on a tick-list of “my type” preferences – such as age, weight, height and social group – for possible matches available to premium users.
Grindr bills itself as the “largest mobile social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people” but has long been criticised for being too slow to combat racism inside the platform. The dating app was a precursor to other instant location-based hook-up services such as Tinder and has several million users across the world.
Checking the option means users do not see others of certain ethnicities.
In a post on Instagram, the tech company said: “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.”
However, users have long complained of being blocked by Grindr when they raised issues about the ethnicity filter.
It is also not the only LGBT dating app allowing the filtering of potential matches by race, and no mention was made in the statement about people using racially-explicit language in their profile posts.
The hugely-profitable data firm was among tech firms to post messages with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag following widespread protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
It published a tweet at the weekend, which said: “Demand justice. #BlackLivesMatter”, leading to accusations of hypocrisy and more than 1,000 subsequent retweets of a Twitter user’s post demanding Grindr “remove the ethnicity filter”.
Research has found that people of colour are more likely to face rejection than white people using dating apps.
At the same time, in an interview with the Guardian in 2018, Grindr’s former PR boss Landen Zumwalt said: “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.”
While some Grindr users welcomed the filter’s removal, others said the company had taken too long to make the change and had done the “bare minimum”.
One wrote on Twitter that “(Grindr) has been a huge contributor to the race, body and personality type shaming that is a plague in the community”.