Grindr, the world’s most famous dating app for gay and bi men, has reportedly disappeared from app stores in China.
According to AFP, it was removed from Apple’s app store in China on Thursday. It is also not on the Android store. Google’s Play Store is not available in the country.
The removal of the app comes as China cracks down on online activity. In recent months it has acted to remove access to pornography and instructed big tech to do more to create a “clean and healthy” cyberspace.
Last summer, the country’s hugely popular WeChat social media platform removed many LGBTQ accounts, while in August authorities banned under-18s from playing online games for more than three hours a week.
Tech entrepreneur Joel Simkhai launched Grindr in 2009. In 2016, China-based gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech bought a 61.5% stake in the app for $93million. In 2017, it bought the remaining 38.5% for $152million.
However, the sale did not go down well with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which moved to block the deal. It had concerns around China potentially having access to the personal data of so many US citizens.
Beijing Kunlun Tech was told it had to sell Grindr back to US-based owners, which it did in 2020 for $600 million to a group of unnamed investors.
Although Grindr appears to have now been removed from China’s app stores, Blued, the country’s biggest dating app for gay men, is still available. Blued was set up in 2012 by Beijing-based gay entrepreneur and former policeman, Geng Le.
Apple, headed by gay CEO Tim Cook, did not respond to AFP about its story. Queerty has contacted both Apple and Grindr for comment.
Apple says the developer—not Apple—removed Grindr from the App Store in China.