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National Institutes of Health Finance $400,000 Study of Grindr Behavior

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The National Institutes of Health have put forth nearly half a million dollars for a study being conducted by Columbia University analyzing gay mens’ use of geolocation-based networking apps like Grindr, Scruff, and Jack’d.

“Smartphone technologies have provided a new venue for sexual partnering among men who have sex with men (MSM),” the study’s grant proposal reads. “Indeed, there are a rapidly growing number of smartphone applications designed to facilitate sexual partnering among MSM.”

The study, led by professor of sociomedical sciences Karolynn Siegel, interviewed 60 self-identified gay men who have sex with other men about the ways in which mobile networking apps influenced their sexual and social behavior. In particular the study focused on the “sexual and emotional states” (like arousal and impulsivity) of its participants in an attempt to better understand the effect that smartphone apps have on the potential for risky sexual behavior:

“Given the expediency with which men are able to arrange sexual encounters using these applications, there is cause to question if, when, and how sexual negotiation and serostatus disclosure occurs.

The overall study goal is to understand how sexual risk behaviors among MSM may be facilitated by the nature of GPS-enabled smartphone applications, the way they are used, and the process by which sexual partnering occurs via smartphone applications.”


If Guys Acted in Real Life the Way They Do on Gay Apps: VIDEO

Appholes

Perhaps you're familiar with a few of these 'appholes'?

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay Couples Read Grindr Messages: VIDEO

Gay Couples Read Grindr

We've all gotten at least one of those messages before that just makes you stop and wonder if someone ever thought about how it would sound out loud. YouTube users TrentAndLuke took that concept, got some of their friends together, and had them read actual Grindr conversations out loud to each other. They range from the annoying, such as the endless "Hi", "Hello" ping pong match, to stuff so raunchy and wrong that one of the couples almost refused to read it.

You can watch all the wrongness AFTER THE JUMP... (NSFW obviously)

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It's Time To Rethink Online Gay Social Networks

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The Interplay is a special biweekly series exploring the intersections of sex, pop culture, and current events.

BY CHARLES PULLIAM-MOORE

The writing is on the wall: we’ve (unsurprisingly) hit peak mobile application. In the early days of powerful mobile computing the idea of there being “an app for that” was radical. Creating virtual communities unbound by space, time, and economic circumstance was game changing for gay men across the world.

As the years have gone on, however, gay social networks that live on servers have flooded the market with variations of the same guy-on-a-grid experience. If Grindr, for example, is for everyone, then Scruff is for everyone with a little bit more body hair. Growlr’s the same, but for bears, and Daddyhunt’s focused primary on connecting strapping men of a certain age. Beneath slightly different coats of paint all of these applications are derivative of one another. It’s time that we demand more of them.

Last week Scruff’s Chief Product Officer Jason Marchant published an op-ed in the Huffington Post describing the steps Scruff has taken to work against the cultural stigma attached to being HIV-positive. Scruff, like an increasing number of mobile networking apps, is emphasizing the use of categorical filters to help its users find the kinds of guys they’re looking for without risk of being ostracized.    

“For "Poz" guys uncomfortable disclosing status in their profile, "HIV Status" presents a fraught choice: to answer "Negative" would be dishonest, but any other answer -- including no answer -- is often interpreted by other users as a tacit disclosure. It's also a problem for HIV negative guys searching for the same. Seeing "Negative" presented next to other profile "stats" conveys a false sense of permanence.

BluedRecently applications like Scruff have positioned themselves as valuable assets in efforts to curtail the spread of various STIs. As a part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to eradicate new HIV infections in the state by 2020, New York City began using Grindr and Scruff to inform gay men about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Blued, a popular Chinese gay networking app, actively encourages its users to seek out HIV tests at its parent company’s office free of charge.  

All of these platforms want to be thought of as more than hookup apps, and gradually their platforms are trying to address the gay community’s needs other than sex. Other than public health outreach and offering free advertising space, however, the “social” experience of these networks seems to have plateaued. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Grindr Reveals Best of 2014 Awards, Makes Predictions for 2015

Icon_iOS_GrindrGrindr conducted its annual end of year survey of users in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to find out what they thought were the biggest hits and misses of 2014 and also to make some predictions for the year ahead. See who app-happy men chose as gay icon of the year (for the second year in a row!) and who they think is the next celebrity to join our annual coming out list, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Chinese Gay Social App Blued Working With Government to Spread HIV/AIDS Awareness

BluedIn 2011 Ma Baoli left his job as a Chinese police officer after it was discovered that he was the creator and administrator of Danlan.org, a popular Chinese social network for gay men. Soon after resigning Baoli created Blued, a geo-location based mobile app similar to Grindr.

In the three years since Baoli launched Blued, the application’s userbase has expanded to over 15 million people. Unlike many of its predecessors, which the Chinese government has been known to proactively shut down, Blued has found an unlikely ally in governmental officials looking to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the country.

In the early days of HIV/AIDS the virus was widely thought to be a larger problem for China’s rural population. In recent years, however, the rate of new infections is steadily rising within younger populations in more metropolitan areas.

“The proportion of young H.I.V./AIDS sufferers almost doubled between 2008 and 2012, and gay sex is considered a major reason for the increase,” Shang Hong, a researcher at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said to Xinhua.

Reaching out China’s gay male population has proven to be difficult for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Though consensual same-sex interactions were decriminalized in China in 1997, much of the country’s culture is still somewhat resistant to open frank discussions about LGBT public health when it comes to safer sex.

Blued’s parent company Blue City has proven to be an unlikely ally for the Chinese government in its efforts to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and offer HIV blood tests.

“None of our public awareness websites can receive such attention,” said Wu Zunyou, the director of the Chinese CDC, said at AIDS awareness gathering last week. “This is a very important channel to be able to spread information about AIDS prevention among the LGBT community."


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