Grindr is still promoting its reviled ethnicity feature a month after it said it was removing it

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Grindr has failed to remove its controversial “ethnicity filter” nearly a month after it promised to do so in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

The filter, for use by subscribers to the premium version of the app, allows Grindr users to exclude or sort search results based on reported ethnicity. The feature has long been a lightning rod for criticism from queer folk of colour, who say it encourages racism on the app.

After weathering criticism for years, Grindr announced on June 1 amid a Twitter firestorm that it would “remove the ethnicity” from the app and make donations to Black organisations.

“We will not be silent, and we will not be inactive,” it said in a statement. “We will continue to fight racism on Grindr, both through dialogue with our community and a zero-tolerance policy for racism and hate speech on our platform.

“As part of this commitment, and based on your feedback, we have decided to remove the ethnicity filter from our next release.”

According to the BBC, there have been six updates to the Grindr app since this statement but the ethnicity filter is still usable. Several Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) users flagged it as an issue but have had no response from Grindr.

A Grindr spokesperson told Vice that there had been a “slight delay” and that users will begin seeing changes in the coming weeks.

“Ten days ago Grindr changed ownership, causing a slight delay from our side,” the statement said. “We have now completed all the changes to our apps and service needed to remove the ethnicity filters, and the QA review on the updates is complete.

“Assuming a normal review period from both Google and Apple on the app updates, our users should begin seeing changes on Tuesday, June 30th. We apologise for the delay.”

Grindr has long struggled with racism.

This isn’t the first time Grindr has attempted to tackle issues of racism and discrimination on its app.

In 2018 it acknowledged that it had a racism issue and launched its Kindr Grindr initiative, which gave QPOC a platform to discuss the issue and updated the app’s guidelines to clamp down on discrimination.

The dating app said that “anyone found bullying, threatening, or defaming another user will be banned.”

“We will also remove any discriminatory statements displayed on profiles,” it continued. “You’re free to express your preferences, but we’d rather hear about what you’re into, not what you aren’t.

“Profile language that is used to openly discriminate against other users’ traits and characteristics will not be tolerated and will be subject to review by our moderation team.”

But it seems the initiative did little to stamp out discrimination on the platform. In February the former rugby player Casey Conway spoke of the racist abuse he received within hours of opening a profile, prompting many other users to share similar experiences.