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Flaw In Grindr Infrastructure Allows For Spying On Exact Location, Profile Details: VIDEO

GrindrAn exploit recently discovered in the current generation of Grindr applications allows anyone with an internet connection and skill enough to query Grindr’s servers. Grindr, and applications like that, function using a cell phone’s geo-location information based on a combination of cell phone signal, proximity to wi-fi hot spots, and use of GPS tech. Generally, Grindr will provide users with a general idea of where they are in relation to one another denoted in a chosen unit of measurement.

When questioned about the security flaw, a Grindr representative claimed that the sharing of location data was a feature of the application, rather than a mistake. This particular bug, however functions somewhat differently than how the average Grindr user’s phone might.

By pinging Grindr’s servers for location requests linked to a particular Grindr user multiple times, it is possible to triangulate a person’s exact location with a degree of accuracy uncharacteristic of the application. In addition to detailed location information, it is possible to parse all of the information included on a Grindr user’s profile. All of this can be achieved without actually using Grindr from either a phone or a tablet, as explained by NDTV. The only protection that Grindr users have at their disposal currently is to completely disable any locational permissions given to the app, effectively crippling it.

According to NDTV, an anonymous samaritan has been using the flaw to let people using Grindr in countries known to be hostile towards gays know that their identities could, in theory, be compromised. As of the 19th, the hacktivist reported having contacted 100,000 Grindr users in over 70 countries with anti-gay laws in effect. Since then they’ve taken to posting warnings to a Twitter profile, YouTube Channel, and a Pastebin text page.

Watch a video demonstration explaining the security exploit, AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE: Grindr has reached out to us about this report, releasing the following statement:

"We don’t view this as a security flaw.  As part of the Grindr service, users rely on sharing location information with other users as core functionality of the application and Grindr users can control how this information is displayed. For Grindr users concerned about showing their proximity, we make it very easy for them to remove this option and we encourage them to disable ‘show distance’ in their privacy settings. As always, our user security is our top priority and we do our best to keep our Grindr community secure."

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Sam Smith Facing Backlash Over His Dismissal of Grindr, Tinder

Smith

Since coming out as gay earlier this year Sam Smith has stepped into the cultural spotlight for reasons other than his singing voice. Smith, 22, made a name for himself channeling memories of unrequited loved into his debut album In The Lonely Hour, describing the record as “a diary from a lonely 21-year-old.”

“It was my way of talking about the only real issue in my life.” Smith explained to Digital Spy. “I fell in love with someone who didn't love me back, and it made me get into this head space of Will I find love?”

Since May, and the meteoric rise of his album, Smith has reportedly continued his search for true love as young artists are wont to do. A traditionalist at heart, however, Smith has made a point of condemning the use matchmaking and hook up apps to find a lasting connection. Smith, who is now dating, describes having met his new beau the “proper way,” a sentiment that has left some of his mans a bit miffed. Given Smith’s status as a freshly minted icon, Gawker’s Rich Juzwiak and The Wire’s Kevin O’Keefe took the singer to task for his dismissal of what they consider to be a rather substantial aspect of modern gay culture.

More than just preferring traditional face to face interaction, O’Keefe argues, Smith is making an implicit condemnation of forms of gay culture that might not necessarily be considered as “normal.”

“As a gay singer, it's not a stretch to imagine much of Smith's potential fanbase does use Grindr, Tinder, etc.” O’Keefe lays out in a lengthy essay. “Sure, he shouldn't pander to them if he doesn't agree with what they're doing, but to essentially wag his finger and say "naughty, naughty" seems like bad PR.”

In Juzwiak’s opinion, Smith’s posturing of himself in opposition to men interested in exploring newer ways to connect with one another smacks both of mild technophobia and cliched gay respectability politics:

"[T]here is a different experience to be had, one that is just as real as the painful one Smith implies, one without pathology or grief. Apps don't necessarily ruin communication; they fix it for people who are too nervous to approach people in public. Or they just make it easier to get sex when you want sex.”

Smith’s words, given that he’s a young, rising star openly identifying himself as gay, carry an added layer of significance not just for his fans, but also to the industry mechanics that ultimately decide what kind of artist’s projects get greenlit. Smith incorporates the very real themes of gay love, loss, and longing into his music and videos, which is an undeniable sign of progress. That progress is undercut, however, when those themes are come along with caveats that devalue certain forms of intimate connection in favor of others.

Watch Sam Smith's interview with Fresh 102.7 discuss his coming out AFTER THE JUMP...

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Judge Judy Hears Grindr Case: VIDEO

Gagging

In a very special episode of Judge Judy that, from afar, would appear to have been produced by World of Wonder and Bianca Del Rio, Judge Sheindlin learned all about Grindr. Sterns v. Murphy is a cautionary tale as old as time: Older man with a penchant for younger men finds a “friend” who, in exchange for companionship, asks for temporary loans to, you know, cover bills and stuff.

The case in and of itself is rather run of the mill. It’s Judy’s reaction to the circumstances and how the plaintiff and defendant met that’s the shining spectacle of the show.

"Um, we met on a social website,"  explained defendant Adam Murphy "It's actually called Grindr, it's an app. For your phone or your iPad. It's a social app that tells you where homosexual males are and their proximity. To where you are."

Murphy claims that he only sought companionship from Sterns and that any exchange of money between the individuals should be considered “gifts” rather than the loans Sterns was looking to recoup. After a fair amount of chuckling from the gallery and requisite eye-rolling, Judge Judy dismissed the case, citing that Sterns gave the money over willingly with no expectation of ever being repaid.

We can only assume that RuPaul is out there somewhere living for this.

Watch a clip from the hearing, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Grindr Pride Survey Reveals How Many of Its Users Aren't Proud Enough to Be Out

Just in time for this weekend’s New York City Pride, Grindr has conducted a survey asking its users about their coming out stories. According to the survey some 82% of Grindr users identify as having come out while the remaining 18% remain in the closet. 6% of users responded that they had no intentions of ever coming out. Grindr’s findings become more complicated when broken down by age group with 50% of users reporting coming while still in their teens.

Grindr_logo"It’s a great time to be gay -- not just because it’s pride season, but because the tide is shifting for our community,” said Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai in an email statement. “Our voices are being heard as laws are changing, people are getting married and we have more allies than ever before."

Grindr also found that setting often factored into whether or not individuals felt comfortable being public about their personal lives. While 81% of users claimed to be out to friends and family only 68% were out to coworkers, likely due to workplace discrimination concerns. The majority of respondents said that they came out of their own volition while 12% were outed.


Women Read Real Messages from Grindr, Scruff, and GROWLr: VIDEO

Messages

"Brace yourselves." The women of the Second City Network are here to offer dramatic readings of real-life propositions collected from Grindr, Scruff, and GROWLr and express their own horror, amusement, and curiosity.

(warning: language)

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Study Finds Men Who Use Gay Hook-up Apps Face Higher Risks of Sexually Transmitted Infections

New research published in the medical journal Sexually Transmitted Infections suggests smartphone apps like Grindr and Scruff used to find a sexual partner carry higher risks of getting common sexually transmitted infections than meeting online or in bars and clubs.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 11.11.29 AMMedical Xpress reports:

The researchers suggest that smartphone apps make it easier to meet potential partners more quickly than online or more traditional methods, thereby boosting the chances of anonymous riskier encounters, and therefore of picking up a sexually transmitted infection.

They point out that their findings may not be applicable to gay men in other areas or to those not attending a dedicated sexual health clinic.

But they write: "Technological advances which improve the efficiency of meeting anonymous sexual partners may have the unintended effect of creating networks of individuals where users may be more likely to have sexually transmissible infections than other, relatively less efficient social networking methods."

And they add: "Technology is redefining sex on demand," they say. "Prevention programs must learn how to effectively exploit the same technology, and keep pace with changing contemporary risk factors for [sexually transmitted infections] and HIV transmission."

The research found men who used smartphone apps to hook up with other men were 23% more likely to be infected with gonorrhoea and 35% more likely to be infected with chlamydia compared to men who met partners through in-person methods. There was no significant differences in rate of syphilis and HIV infection, regardless of method of contact.  

More on the study HERE


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