Grindr has warned people using their site that they should hide their identities, as the Egyptian police are arresting LGBT people, and may be posing as gay on social media to entrap users.
In an alert on its site Grindr states:
“Egypt is arresting LGBT people, and police may be posing as LGBT on social media to entrap you. Please be careful about arranging meetings with people you don’t know, and be careful about posting anything that might reveal your identity”.
Grindr has answered critics about the level of security which has allowed Egyptian authorities to gain possible access to the site by stating that it is taking proactive steps to keep users safe in countries “with a history of violence against the gay community”.
It will include Egypt in a list of countries which are protected by a ‘location change’:
“Any user who connects to Grindr in these countries will have their distance hidden automatically by default, which include Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Liberia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. There are many more countries already being protected by this location change, and we will continue to add more to the list”.
However this will not affect countries without anti-gay laws or sentiment:
“Users that are not located in countries with anti-gay legislation will be able to see distance in profiles, as we believe geo-location technology is the best way to help guys meet up simply and efficiently. However, should you wish to hide your location data, simply open the side menu, tap ‘Settings’, then ‘Privacy’ and turn ‘Show Distance’ off”.
The situation for the LGBT community in Egypt, however, appears to be worsening, with social media now being used to identify and arrest LGBT people.
“Same-sex consensual homosexual conduct is not explicitly criminalised by Egyptian law, but same-sex marriage is not legal. Nonetheless, homosexuals have been arrested and punished in the past on morality charges under several laws, including debauchery, immorality or contempt of religion”.
Ahram online also states that, on Thursday, an Egyptian court sentenced six men to two years in jail with hard labour for “committing debauchery”. The men were also fined for being caught “red-handed” during a raid on an apartment. The apartment was allegedly promoted on facebook as a gay meeting place.
Earlier in the week, eight men were arrested for being on video at a gay wedding aboard a boat:
“The defendants, arrested earlier in September also over “inciting debauchery,” tested negative in controversial medical examinations conducted to detect homosexuality”.
The men were released after their ‘tests for homosexuality’ were said to be negative, and the men also claimed that it was not really a wedding video, it was a joke, despite rings being exchanged between the gay couple.
In response to the possible infiltration of its site, Grindr says it is committed to the security of its users:
“There is nothing that matters to us more than the safety and security of our user and the Grindr community. We will continue to find ways to keep our users private, especially in countries with anti-gay legislation”.