Blued, the most popular gay dating app in the world, has temporarily stopped accepting new users.
This change in policy is due to allegations that Blued is partially responsible for the rise in HIV statuses in China. Even further, many say Blued is putting underage people at risk by letting them sign up.
Keep in mind, Blued creator and CEO Ma Baoli says people under 18 are forbidden from using the app. Also, Blued is not just a gay dating/hookup app. The app offers several community/social media aspects including gaming features, YouTube videos and programs, a live streaming community that bans nudity, and news/opinion articles with LGBTQ related content.
Despite this, a report by Chinese financial news site Caixin accused Blued of failing to protect LGBTQ youth. It did so by including a 10-month survey of 56 health workers, members of the gay community, and their support groups.
Even though the app swears to be 18+ only, the Caixin article pointed out that younger people can just claim that they are 18 and older.
Qingdao University sexologist Zhang Beichuan was quoted in the article and shared stories of underage Blued users being pressured into having sex after meeting older men through the app. The article also states that some had contracted HIV through these encounters.
Peng Xiaohui, from the China Sexology Association, said to the South China Morning Post that he had “been worrying and warning Blued’s founder to make efforts to prevent minors from using the app”.
“Now the report has proved my worries to be true … The public should respect the lawful rights and interests of the gay community. And the app must take responsibility to protect minors and abide by the law,” Peng said.
According to CNN, Blued then made the announcement that it’s temporarily prohibiting new users as it tries to address how to fix this problem.
"What we have done on AIDS prevention is seen by all," Ma Baoli told CNN on Monday. "We probably are the best and we have done the most. Our priority now is to supervise and examine our content."
In the meantime, Blued is trying to improve its programing to detect accounts set up by underage users. It is also increasing the number of notifications reminding users of the age restriction.
In the past year, the tech industry has been hounded by increased concerns over the responsibility to protect users from explicit content.
Tumblr increased censorship after child pornography snuck through its security, Facebook upped its community standards as a way to combat adult content, fake news, and political manipulation, and Grindr is currently in a court battle over “products liability” after a New Yorker’s ex posted multiple fake accounts and had several men show up to his home.