“Kindr Grindr? Moderating Race(ism) in technspaces of desire”

In 2018 Grindr, the popular hook-up app, launched a campaign designed to foster a more inclusive and respectful environment for its users. The initiative was launched with a series of videos featuring non-white, HIV positive, differently abled and Trans folk speaking about their experiences of prejudice. Grindr also rewrote its community guidelines placing particular emphasis on banning racist or transphobic users. 

In this talk, I consider what it means to moderate identities and discourse on a platform designed for social networking and hooking-up. Drawing on the work of Kate Crawford (2016), Tarleton Gillespie (2018) and Ysabel Gerrard (2018), I examine the awkward position the ‘Kindr’ campaign occupies in relation to the Grindr platform, which is driven by human and non-human practices of filtering, exclusion and discrimination. I also critique the invitation Kindr extends to users of the app, namely the invitation to moderate and police the platform through practices of reporting and flagging. I contend that this invitation to moderate places an undue burden of responsibility on Grindr’s most marginalised users, who are asked to undertake such work in order to ‘curate’ the platform and keep it ‘clean’. 

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