LGBTQ dating app Grindr has been removed from the Apple App Store in China and is also not available on popular Android app marketplaces, Bloomberg reports:† The app reportedly disappeared from the iOS App Store on January 27, although it’s unclear when it was removed from the country’s popular Android app stores — which are operated by local companies like Huawei and Tencent in the absence of the Google Play Store. .
The apparent takedowns follow the Chinese government’s announcement last week that it would crack down on illegal content, pornography and “unkind” activity online, Bloomberg previously reported† The tightening of restrictions comes ahead of China to host the Beijing Winter Olympics, which kick off later this week. While homosexuality is not illegal in China, observers have noted that: government policy has become increasingly intolerantand Beijing censors have objected to gay themes in the media.
Ahead of the Winter Olympics
Deleting app stores has become common in China in recent years, affecting services targeting everything from news to podcasts and maps, apparently over fears they could be used to access unsavory content or facilitate activities that are considered illegal in the country. Gaming apps also appear to be a common target, with tens of thousands removed. Last year, a popular Quran app also disappeared.
The environment has proven challenging for foreign technology companies, some of whom have taken their services off the market. Microsoft announced it would shut down its Chinese LinkedIn service in October, and Epic Games shut down the Chinese version of Fortnite the following month.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Grindr’s removal. But the company outlines its approach to dealing with human rights abroad in this document where it notes that it is “required to comply with local laws, and sometimes there are complex issues that we may not agree with governments and other stakeholders on the right track.”
While Grindr, one of the world’s most well-known LGBTQ dating apps, has been removed, Bloomberg reports that local alternatives like Blued are still available in the country. Until early 2020, Grindr was owned by a Chinese company – Beijing Kunlun Tech – but that year it announced it would sell the service to US-based San Vicente Acquisition after US authorities raised concerns about national security.