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Russian Gay Dating App Blocked in Sochi; Users Sent Threats of Arrest

The founder and CEO of Hunters, a gay hook-up app popular in Russia which bears similarities to Grindr, tells Towleroad that the app came under an attack by hackers.

HuntersDmitry T (his last name is being withheld at his request, for security reasons), writes:

The anonymous threat which read, "You will be arrested and jailed for gay propaganda in Sochi according to Russian Federal Law #135 Sektion 6" was sent on February 1st, 2014 at 11:52 pm to all users in Russia, including those in Sochi.

Hunters is blocked in Sochi and Adler now, and some 72,000 user profiles were deleted throughout Russia. Hackers completely destroyed their profiles and all their messages."

On the morning of February 2nd, just a few days before the opening of the Olympic Games, users trying to open this gay app in Sochi were greeted with an alert saying that their profile was blocked for the next 55,000 minutes (38 days).

It looks like the Russian Government decided to take full control of the Internet and implement Turkish practices where Grindr has been banned for almost half a year. I think that this attack is connected to increasing censorship of the Internet and very soon other gay dating resources in Russia will face similar problems.

Our team was able to restore 24% of the profiles after 12 long hours. All other profiles were unable to be restored. In order to protect our users from future injustice, we have started moving our servers from Russia to Europe and are planning to finish this process within the next 3-5 days. Therefore, Hunters users may face further disruptions in the coming days.

I urge the entire gay community and all of those who consider the Internet to be a free zone to boycott not only Russian vodka but also everything that is linked to the Olympics and not to buy any Olympic souvenirs."

This attack should be looked at as an attack on the worldwide gay community with the goal of blocking any gay interactions during the Winter Games in Sochi, including those between athletes and locals.

Dmitry provided screenshots of the alleged attack to Towleroad.

If anyone can provide verification of the attack to us please email at tips-at-towleroad-dot-com or leave a note using the 'tips' link on the right-hand side of the site any additional info would be much appreciated.

2_hunters 3_hunters 4_hunters

Dmitry also provided screenshots of user complaints to their support after the app was hacked.

Email1 Email2


Michigan Man Murdered by Group He Met Through Grindr

Grindr

A 71-year-old Ann Arbor, Michigan was robbed and murdered by three homeless men, one of whom he met on the social hook-up app Grindr, MLive reports:

MaurerNineteen-year-old Richard Thompson, of Flat Rock, told police that when he was signaled by 20-year-old Rikky Ranger and 19-year-old Mark Paling, he got David Maurer in a chokehold while the two other men went through the Lurie Terrace apartment and stole a gun, computer, cash and credit cards, according to transcripts of a Dec. 15 probable cause hearing obtained by The Ann Arbor News Wednesday...

...Stanford detailed for the magistrate how Ranger met Maurer on the gay hook-up website, Grindr, how the three suspects came to Ann Arbor from the Downriver area to drink, smoke marijuana and engage in sexual activity with Maurer that night only to leave the 71-year-old face down dead in his own couch.

The three suspects, who identified themselves as homeless to Stanford, used Maurer’s credit cards and cash in the ensuing days for necessities.

Maurer had been dead for several days before his body was found on December 1. For several days there was thought to be no foul play involved, but the manager reviewing tapes of the Lurie Terrace apartment complex spotted the three men entering it with Maurer.


Smartphone App Blued Knocks Out Grindr And Jack'd In China

BluedA new "gay match-making" app has taken off in China, amassing a little over 2 million users in the least year according to Al Jazeera. Blued has already become more popular than Grindr, an app that is perhaps most prevalent in the United States. "I use Grindr, but people in China use it so little," said Clint Wang. Jack'd, a gay dating/hook-up app created in Belgium and popular in larger Chinese cities like Shanghai, is oft referred to by its "Chinese name jie ke di, which literally translates to a place where a sex worker finds his or her John." Still, Blued has outpaced Jack'd and Grindr, gaining preeminence in "China's second- and third-tier cities."

However, the release of the figures estimating Blued's popularity comes on the heels of China's government controlled news agency expressing concern that apps such as Blued will increase China's rate of HIV infection. However, the CEO of Blued, Geng Le, does not agree with the government's characterization of the risk:

[Le told Al Jazeera that he] feels his company is part of the solution, not the problem, to China's HIV/AIDS epidemic. "We have helped the government spread education to combat the HIV/AIDS information."

"If HIV/AIDS is an issue, it's because of bad sexual practices," like unprotected sex, and misinformation, Geng said, not apps themselves.

Tom Myers, spokesman and general counsel at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Washington, D.C., echoed Geng's opinion.

"It sounds funky to me,” he said. “I'd have to see what evidence the (Xinhua) report is relying on."

"What drives the epidemic in the U.S. and in most of the world is people who have HIV and don't know they have HIV," said Myers, adding that finding treatment allows people with HIV to become up to 96 percent non-infectious. "That's a better success rate than condoms."

Geng estimates that there are 13 million gay men in China and Blued hopes to reach 10 million smartphones across the country.


Grindr Reveals Best Of 2013 Awards, Makes Predictions For 2014

GrindrSome might say gay-dating app Grindr has its finger on the pulse of what many gay men want (and, some would argue, need). As such, the all-male social network app surveyed its users in the U.S, U.K. and Australia to find out a few of their favorite things from 2013 and what predictions they have for 2014 on a wide range of topics like, "biggest celebrity train wreck, the hottest gadget, and the next celebrity to come out of the closet."

The results are in AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Grindr Reveals Best Of 2013 Awards, Makes Predictions For 2014" »


CEO Joel Simkhai on How Grindr is Improving Gay Lives: AUDIO

Sirius radio host Michelangelo Signorile speaks with Grindr founder and CEO Joel Simkhai about the app, wondering how he responds to critics who say the gay dating app encourages superficiality and reduces gay men to physical ideals.

JoelSays Simkhai:

“Fanstastic! I love it. Absolutely. Look good. I’m very proud if Grindr has forced us to up our game. To brush our teeth. Comb our hair. Eat right. Go to the gym. Be a healthy person. Cut back on the smoking. Cut back on the bad things and look your best. We’re men. We visualize. We see before we hear, before we think, before we do anything else. That’s how we are. I haven’t changed that. That’s what our evolution has taught us to do. I certainly go to the gym more because of Grindr. I’m competing with the guy a space away from me on that grid.”

Simkhai also insists Grindr gives gay men hope in countries that criminalize homosexuality:

“Let’s take it to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, and all these other countries where it’s literally illegal to be gay, where there are no gay bars,” he said. “Where you are not protected. Where you can literally go to jail for being who you are. Where you don’t even know what gay is. You know you have these feelings but there’s no one else around you who can explain those to you. Fortunately for those guys, Grindr is gay for them. That is all they understand. There is no place for them to go to other than Grindr.

Listen, AFTER THE JUMP...

More quotes from the interview including discussion of Simkhai's efforts to use the app as an activist tool over at HuffPost...

Continue reading "CEO Joel Simkhai on How Grindr is Improving Gay Lives: AUDIO" »


Why is a Giant Grindr App Wandering Provincetown? — VIDEO

Grindr

You see a lot of things wandering the streets of Provincetown, Massachusetts, but it's not so often that you see a giant Grindr app handing out test tubes of (fake) blood and semen.

Watch artist Tim McCarthy's project on HIV transmission, AFTER THE JUMP...

2_grindrSaid McCarthy, in a press release: “The concept is meant to be disturbing. We want to engage guys—especially young guys—in a conversation about HIV that seems to have lost momentum.”

McCarthy adds that the video title and Grindr handle, 'R U the 1?', is intentionally equivocal: "Are you the one I’ll spend a night with? The rest of my life with? Or the one who gives me HIV?"  He adds that the reverse label on his handouts includes information about the rise of HIV infections and the use of social apps for bareback sex. It also includes tips for making sex safer with online partners.

Added McCarthy: "The Internet and smartphones have changed gay culture and how we meet one another. There’s no shame in meeting online for sex. But if guys knew about the prevalence of new HIV infections, they might do more to prevent its transmission.”

Watch public reaction to McCarthy on the streets of Ptown, AFTER THE JUMP...

In related news, a recent study of over 1,300 gay and bisexual men in the New York City area who use Grindr revealed that 1 in 10 men on Grindr in NYC had never received an HIV test.

Further analysis showed that the proportion of older men getting tested for HIV was notably higher than that of the younger men, with 1 in 5 young MSM between the ages of 18-24 having never received an HIV test. Comparing these men to the overall population of NYC MSM indicated that a higher proportion of men onGrindr had never been tested for the disease (10% of Grindr users versus 2.6% of all NYC MSM).

Continue reading "Why is a Giant Grindr App Wandering Provincetown? — VIDEO" »


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