Scruff Hub




It's Time To Rethink Online Gay Social Networks

  Screenshot 2014-12-11 14.20.17

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...

Continue reading "It's Time To Rethink Online Gay Social Networks" »


SCRUFF CEO Explains The Security 'Flaw' Built Into All Location-Aware Apps

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.42.45 PMSCRUFF CEO Eric Silverberg took to The Huffington Post to give the internet a brief, but insightful, lesson in “trilateration,” the process through which a person’s specific location can be pinpointed with a few bits of information and a little bit of know-how.

“The most important thing you should know about location-based apps is this: Any app that shows relative distance between members can be used to pinpoint your location.” He explains. “While there are measures we have taken to protect our community, it's critical that all users understand the benefits and limitations intrinsic to location-based apps.”

All mobile social networking apps with geo-location functionality can approximate a user’s general location, Silverberg explains, but a basic understanding of geometry can easily reveal a user’s position even after deciding to turn off detailed GPS tracking features:

“If I know you are 1 mile away from me, but I don't know which direction, then the circumference of a circle, centered at my location, defines the set of possible places you could be. If I simply move to two other places and record your relative distance, with those three readings I can calculate your location.”

According to Silverberg SCRUFF has attempted to circumvent some of the security “flaws” inherent in all location-aware services by randomizing users’ location data on SCRUFF’s backend. Every phone or tablet using the SCRUFF app sends its location information back to app’s servers so that other users can request it upon tapping a profile. For those users who select to have their locations hidden from the general public, SCRUFF will go so far as to spoof where a person actually is.

“This means that, if [a user] lives in the West Village in NYC, he could potentially appear in between two people in SoHo,” said Silverberg.”[We also] take density into account, so if you live in the city, your location will be randomized by a few blocks, but in the country it could be a few miles or more.”


Scruff Introduces Free 'Benevolads' To Increase LGBT Community Engagement: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 4.19.18 PM

SCRUFF founder Johnny Skandros took to YouTube earlier this week to announce BeneveolAds, a new, free ad-platform available to nonprofits interested in advertising on the popular gay social application. Since its launch in 2010 SCRUFF has offered paid advertising space within its iPhone and Android applications for major brands. A growing demand for community-focused ads, Skandros says, inspired the team to create a free, more specialized alternative.

“Organizations reach out to SCRUFF every day asking for help getting the word out about things like events, fundraisers, and sports leagues.” Skandros said in a press release. “Benevolads enables us to say ‘yes’ to everyone”.

Unlike SCRUFF’s paid advertisement, Benevolads are meant to be hyper-local in nature and highly reflective of the specific goings-on within a community. Skandros explained that 80% of Benevolads will be set aside specifically for local organizations and sourced directly to SCRUFF users nearby based on their locations. The remaining space will go towards not-for-profit orgs working towards bettering the LGBT community.

“As gay men have moved online and to mobile, it has become critical for nonprofits to meet their communities where they gather.” said SCRUFF’s chief product officer Jason Marchant. “Using Benevolads, with just a logo and a headline, any organization can reach their community with mobile ads on SCRUFF.”

Watch a Johnny Skandross and Jack Mackenroth introduce Benevolads AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Scruff Introduces Free 'Benevolads' To Increase LGBT Community Engagement: VIDEO" »


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...

Continue reading "Women Read Real Messages from Grindr, Scruff, and GROWLr: VIDEO" »


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


Scruff Launches Gay Hook-Up Slang Dictionary With Foreign Language Translations

Bearchaser

Because the need to hook up can strike any place, any time, the folks behind location-aware social networking app Scruff have provided a multi-language gay slang dictionary

Scruff Gay Slang DictionaryThe words themselves are pretty common to all but the newest of gays and the definitions are pretty sparse, but the selling point is that all of the words are translated into 41 languages, so you'll know the proper term for "NSA" almost everywhere you go.

Not all translations are word-for-word, but that's to be expected when working with slang. Some terms translate strangely - the Japanese term for "kink" is the English loan word "abnormal" (a-bu-no-ma-ru), for example - but others are arguably better than their English counterpart; the German phrase for a "bear chaser", "Bären-Jäger" which literally translates to "bear hunter", puts a decidedly different spin on the bear-chaser dynamic.


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged