Following the sale of Grindr to Chinese tech company Kunlun in 2018, concerns over users’ security have grown and even resulted in the US government demanding the app be sold back to an American buyer by June 2020.
But former employees of the world’s largest gay hookup app suspect the Chinese government has already taken advantage of its newfound proximity to sensitive data, a.k.a. dick pics.
LA Magazine reports:
Most employees admit that Grindr’s data files may have already been intercepted by the Chinese government—and if they were, there wouldn’t be much of a trail to follow. “There’s no world in which the People’s Republic of China is like, ‘Oh, yes, a Chinese billionaire is going to make all this money in the American market with all of this valuable data and not give it to us,’” one former staffer says.
Former employees also note that internal concerns over user privacy have eroded under the app’s new ownership, with the increasingly straight top brass focusing on user engagement and cutting costs at the expense of ambitious projects like implementing end-to-end encryption.
“It wouldn’t be hard at all for a government to scrape data on Grindr that reveals identities and location,” said Bryce Case Jr., Grindr’s former head of information security.
Adding to security concerns are reports of corporate dysfunction at the company, with the former head of communications, Landen Zumwalt, comparing the scene to the Trump administration:
“There was this small group of people inside Grindr who wanted to leave, but we were too fearful of what might happen if we did. I used to balk when I heard that from Trump people, and I still do, but that was a reality I was living with day-to-day. I left because I didn’t want to be their Sarah Sanders anymore.”
And what does the company’s founder and former-owner, Joel Simkhai, think of all this since his decision to sell to Kunlun?
LA Mag spoke to an inside source who said he’s “heartbroken.” And rich; very rich.
“He wanted to stay in West Hollywood, but he doesn’t have any social capital anymore,” the source said. “He’s rich, but that’s it. So he’s been hiding in Miami.”