UPDATE: A previous version of this article described the relationship between UrSafe and Grindr as a partnership. A representative has informed The Advocate that this relationship is related to advertising; more details are forthcoming.
Grindr has formed a relationship with UrSafe to offer users additional security measures.
Millions of the GBTQ dating app's users can subscribe to the app, which offers features like hands-free SOS alerts to law enforcement and location sharing with family and friends via voice command.
UrSafe, available in over 200 countries and territories, describes itself as a "silent bodyguard" on its website. It can be triggered "in milliseconds" with different safewords that correspond to either an uncomfortable situation or an emergency.
Jeff Bonforte, the new CEO of Grindr, told The Advocate that the relationship is part of the brand's "global effort to improve safer dating experiences."
"Queer people around the world face discrimination and even violence from others simply because of their sexual orientation and gender identity," Bonforte stated. "Grindr is always looking for innovative ways to help our community further their safety on and offline. Partnering with UrSafe certainly fits that goal."
Anthony Oyogoa, MD, CEO and cofounder of UrSafe, said his company believes that "living safely and freely is not a privilege but a right, because until that is established in marginalized communities across the board, we are not all truly considered equal."
"Whether Grindr users are located in Robertsdale, Ala., across the globe in Pakistan or anywhere in between, we are deeply committed to empowering them with next-generation personal safety tools so that they can feel a bit more comfortable dating and creating meaningful connections with others," he said.
Bonforte, along with COO Rick Marini, and CFO Gary Hsueh — as investors in San Vicente Acquisition Partners — purchased Grindr in June for $608.5 million from Beijing Kunlun Tech, a Chinese company that acquired it in 2016.
In past years, concerns over security — and the safety of its 4.5 million daily users worldwide — have plagued Grindr. In 2018, BuzzFeed reported that the app had been sharing the HIV statuses of its users with two third-party vendors; it has since ceased the practice. Reports of queer people being lured through Grindr to dangerous situations also routinely make headlines.
Overall, LGBTQ+ young people experience higher rates of dating violence than their straight peers, including sexual coercion (23.2 percent versus 12.3 percent), according to the Urban Institute.
In June, Bonforte, who once worked to fortify Yahoo! against Russian hackers, told The Advocate that priority on "day one" is user safety and security.
"It will be an ongoing process," Bonforte said of boosting security at the time. "These are hundreds and hundreds of small changes that we'll make. There's no magic bullet that will make Grindr a perfect experience."
In addition to programming, a part of that process is "to increase people's education on about how to be safe" through an ongoing dialogue with the LGBTQ+ community, particularly since what is safe or legal for members varies substantially around the world.
Learn more about the UrSafe app on UrSafe.com.