Popular gay dating app Grindr has disappeared from app stores in China amid a government crackdown on ‘bad internet culture’.
Grindr was removed from Apple’s App Store in China on Thursday, according to data from app review site Qima. Grindr has also been banned from Android app stores run by Chinese phone makers like Tencent and Huawei, Bloomberg reported.
The deletions came days after China’s Cyberspace Administration announced a new censorship push to create a “civilized, healthy, festive and peaceful atmosphere for online public opinion” ahead of the Winter Olympics, which will start on Friday.
The crackdown is targeting online pornography, gambling and promoting the “cult of money” among other perceived evils, the internet regulator said.
Although the ad doesn’t mention dating apps or homosexuality, LGBTQ people face widespread discrimination in China, which has banned portrayals of gay people and “sissy men” from appearing on television. .
In recent years, Apple has played a significant role in censoring the Chinese government, removing news and podcast apps, as well as banning an app that pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong had used to stage protests. .
Apple also reportedly took down a popular Quran app last year at the request of the Chinese government, which has been accused of committing genocide against its Uyghur Muslim minority.
Google does not operate an app store in China. Instead, other companies like Tencent and Huawei operate their own stores that offer Android apps. These app stores also frequently censor apps at the request of the government.
Grindr, Apple and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In a 2020 document outlining its “human rights policy,” Apple gave a vague explanation of its stance on censorship.
“We believe in the critical importance of an open society in which information flows freely, and we are convinced that the best way to continue to promote openness is to stay engaged, even when we disagree. with the laws of a country,” the company said. . “We are required to follow local laws, and sometimes there are complex issues that we may disagree on with governments and other stakeholders on the right path forward.”
Other U.S. tech companies, including LinkedIn and Microsoft-owned Yahoo, have pulled out of the Chinese market in recent months in what the two companies have called an increasingly “challenging” operating environment. Prior to LinkedIn’s withdrawal, the site had been criticized for censoring posts by journalists and scholars who wrote critical of the Chinese government.