Rio De Janeiro: A reporter with popular American news website, The Daily Beast, is facing immense criticism for using a gay social-networking app to identify homosexual athletes at Rio Olympics, and unwittingly revealing their identities in a story.
The hugely controversial story that potentially threatens lives of those featured in it has been taken down by the website after backlash.
Nico Hines, The Beast’s London editor, cruised dating apps like Bumble, Grindr, Jack’d, and Tinder to write about Olympians and their dating and sex habits. “Perhaps the question most people have is: How do the rest of us get an invite? Can an Average Joe join the bacchanalia?” he wrote in the story originally titled “I Got Three Grindr Dates in an Hour in the Olympic Village”.
What followed was a questionable piece in which Hines was descriptive enough to reveal identities and sexual preferences of the athletes he interacted with.
“The height, weight athlete from nationality, who sent his address, had a Rio 2016 duvet cover as his main picture. His profile read “I’m looking for sex” in both English and language,” read a line from the story. Profiles of some athletes – including those of straight women – were also described.
Hines acknowledged in the story that many athletes in the story belonged to countries which have serious anti-gay laws, but went on to describe them anyway, effectively jeopardising their safety and morale. At one point, seemingly to suggest he did nothing wrong, Hines wrote he “didn’t lie to anyone or pretend to be someone I wasn’t unless you count being on Grindr in the first place — since I’m straight, with a wife and child.”
In subsequent clarifications, Hines explained he did not specifically plan to write about gay athletes. His story, however, focused almost entirely on them. Further, the header image used originally had the Grindr logo blended with Olympic rings superimposed on pride colours – another hint that the story’s focus was on the gay community.
The Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon also penned an editor’s note saying, “the concept for the piece was to see how dating and hook-up apps were being used in Rio by athletes. It just so happened that Nico had many more responses on Grindr than apps that cater mostly to straight people, and so he wrote about that. Had he received straight invitations, he would have written about those.”
But as criticism continued and grew stronger, The Beast eventually removed the story.
In its final note, it apologised to athletes who had been compromised and said that “standing up to bullies and bigots, and specifically being a proudly, steadfastly supportive voice for LGBT people all over the world,” was core to its commitment to journalism and its readers.