After a prominent AIDS organization covered Los Angeles with billboards and bench wrappings that connect the hookup apps Grindr and Tinder with chlamydia and gonorrhea, the tech companies are fighting back.
Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation covered 12 billboards and 45 bus benches with the message about sexually transmitted diseases. Soon after they went up, Grindr removed all of AHF's ads for free STD testing from its site and Tinder sent AHF a cease-and-desist letter.
"These unprovoked and wholly unsubstantiated accusations are made to irreparably damage Tinder's reputation in an attempt to encourage others to take an HIV test offered by your organization," the company said in its letter, according to Fortune.
AHF officials are not backing down, saying they plan to expand the billboards to New York City, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. On the group's site, there is the following statement: "Mobile dating apps are rapidly altering the sexual landscape by making casual sex as easily available as ordering a pizza. In many ways, location-based mobile dating apps are becoming a digital bathhouse for millennials wherein the next sexual encounter can literally be just a few feet away—as well as the next STD."
Grindr recently released a statement to The Advocate regarding this story:
"Grindr has always been concerned with the issues of men's health and keeping our users informed and aware of health issues. As one of the world’s largest gay platforms, we take this issue very seriously.
-Grindr conducts educational campaigns on disease prevention and testing, support health advocacy organizations, and run in-app PSAs regularly encouraging testing and supporting health causes.
-Globally, Grindr conducts research with users on issues as broad as access to proper healthcare and issues of mental health facing the gay community, and share the information with local advocacy groups to help their outreach.
-Grindr partnered most recently with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on national studies regarding PrEP usage and attitudes. (results to be released in the near term)
-We also devote a section of our website to these topics. (see attached imagery)
At the end of the day, we are all on the same side in this issue, and strive to work with our partners and advocacy groups to achieve similar goals. A more connected and informed gay community is a better thing for us all.
RE: Grindr “pulling” AHF ads from its app: We were surprised at the approach the AHF took, and paused the campaign in order to speak with them and assess our relationship. In the end, we’re all on the same page regarding this issue, as health and wellness concerns us all."