The 2020 Summer Olympics have broken records by having the most out LGBTQ+ identified athletes in history. There are over 168 out competitors, with 33 representing Team USA. Needless to say, there’s plenty to cheer about. However, one trend not worth celebrating is the one taking place online.
Social media users on TikTok and Twitter have come under fire for recent posts exposing the Grindr profiles of several LGBTQ+ Olympians competing in Tokyo — potentially endangering their lives. For instance, in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, all of which are countries competing, being gay is still punishable by death.
Insider reports that it uncovered several posts, including one that had over 10,000 likes, which showed users searching the “Explore” feature on Grindr to look at the profiles of users in the Olympic Village. While there’s nothing wrong with looking, the issue arose when they shared videos and photos of them scrolling through the profiles and zooming in on the athlete's accounts, which showed their full faces and identifying information.
One post that went viral on TikTok featured the user navigating to the Olympic village and then scrolling through more than 30 user’s faces, one of whom was from a country that’s known for being anti-LGBTQ+. "I used Grindr's explore feature to find myself and Olympian boyfriend," the post said. The video had more than 140,000 views.
Not only do these trends put the athletes at risk, but they also risk exposing closeted LGBTQ+ people living near the village. Anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice is still an issue in Japan, where same-sex marriage isn’t legal, and being out is still taboo.
Following the publication of the Insider piece, a Twitter spokesperson said that the tweets "violated the Twitter Rules against hateful conduct and will need to be removed before the account owners can continue to use Twitter."
A Grindr spokesperson confirmed that these videos and tweets are in breach of Grindr’s Terms and Conditions of Service, “which prohibit them from publicly displaying, publishing, or otherwise distributing any content or information that are part of the Grindr services. Out of respect for our users' privacy, and out of respect for the contractual commitments these individuals made, Grindr demands that these individuals remove their social media posts that include images from the Grindr platform."
TikTok has also since responded to the videos saying it had removed them from the platform because they violated its community guidelines, though at the time of publishing, the one embedded in the article is still up and shareable on the platform.