A popular gay social networking application has warned its users in Egypt that police are posing as members of the community to target and arrest LGBTQ+ people via digital platforms
CAIRO — A popular gay social networking application announced on Friday that it is warning its users in Egypt that police are posing as members of the community to target LGBTQ+ people.
Users in Egypt will see the following warning in Arabic and English when opening the app:
“We have been made aware that Egyptian police are actively arresting gay, bi and trans people on digital platforms. They use fake accounts and have also taken over accounts from real community members who have already been arrested and had their phones stolen. Please take extra care online and offline, even with accounts that may have appeared legitimate in the past.”
While Egypt doesn’t technically ban homosexuality, it does often persecute members of the LGBTQ+ community for “debauchery” or “offending against public decency.” In 2017, seven people were arrested for raising a rainbow flag at a rock concert. And arrests of homosexuals and gender nonconformists remain commonplace.
An Egyptian government media officer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Grindr’s new measure.
The warning to users comes after rights groups and media outlets reported how authorities in the wider region are increasingly using digital platforms to crack down on the LGBTQ+ community.
In February, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting dozens of instances in which security agencies in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Tunisia have extorted, harassed, publicly outed, and arrested LGBTQ+ people because of their activities Facebook and Instagram, as well as the dating app Grindr. The publication also questioned major tech companies for not investing enough in moderating and protecting Arabic-language content.
“Grindr works with local groups in Egypt to ensure our users have up-to-date information on safety, and we urge international organizations and governments to demand justice and safety for Egypt’s LGBTQ community,” Grindr spokesman said Patrick Lenihan in response to a request for comment on Friday.
Grindr, a popular dating app for the gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, has been criticized in the US and fined in Norway for sharing personally identifiable information with third parties that could potentially identify users.
The privacy statement on the company’s website describes how it uses and protects user data. It adds that its goal “is to give you control over as much of the personal data you share within the Grindr properties as possible.”