The gay dating app is blocked in many countries – here’s how to get around that
In the west, we welcome LGBTQ rights as any others. It’s important for the ability of a freely functioning society to exist that people don’t feel they have to hide their sexuality behind a smoke screen. But in oppressive, repressive countries, that’s not the case.
In countries such as Russia and areas like the Middle East, societal issues mean that people are often unable to live how they’d like. And that includes free expression through technology and on social media, too.
Grindr is a key component of the dating lives of millions of LGBTQ+ people. It’s how they connect with each other and find friends and companionship, in the same way that Bumble and Tinder have become key parts of the world’s dating lives. But in some countries, Grindr is highly monitored or blocked – and using it can bring unwanted scrutiny from governments or law enforcement.
Turkey’s battle against Grindr
It’s not just in countries well known for their repression that people can struggle if they’re found to use Grindr. In Turkey, a relatively well-established western country, users have faced prejudice and worse for simply having Grindr on their phones. In 2013, Turkey’s 125,000 Grindr users were blocked from accessing the app because of the government’s anti-LGBTQ attitude.
Elsewhere, some servers or ISPs block access to the app because they class it in the same world as pornography. That can be difficult for students wanting to date who find their university blocks access to Grindr on a systemwide, institutional level.
But such blocks to an app aren’t insurmountable. It’s possible to subvert the barriers that are thrown up to using various means and methods – some of which we’ll explain here.
All hail the VPN
The first and easiest way to try and avoid any bars to an app is to find a place that it’s not blocked, and spoof your sourcing to pretend you’re based there. That’s done using a virtual private network (VPN), which can mask a user’s country of origin and allow them to subvert bans on app stores and other issues they may encounter.
VPNs aren’t without their difficulties and issues, with a number of them reported to leak information in a way that would be problematic for people wanting to avoid detection while using Grindr, but they are still useful as a tool against censorship
Better yet, they’re easily downloadable, and able to help hide people’s tracks on the internet, and particularly when using apps like Grindr. The traffic sent to and from the apps is encrypted when sent through a VPN, making it harder for authoritarian governments to crack into the communications and find out who is hooking up with who.
Grindr not the only use case for VPNs
It’s not only the ability to use dating apps that are banned or frowned upon in a certain territory that makes people use VPNs. In China, they’re enormously popular to subvert government censorship and the so-called Great Firewall that monitors and bars traffic into and out of the country.
In many other places, they’re used to break geo-blocks that exist on services like Netflix and Disney+, preventing users in certain locations from accessing videos that are only available in one or more areas.
Regardless of how you’re using a VPN, and for whatever reason – whether it’s to get around government censorship, to get access to the latest hit Hollywood series, or to love whoever you want – it’s important to pick the right VPN. Do some research and identify the VPNs that best keep control of your data, then access the apps you choose through them to hide your tracks.