Dating app Grindr 'disappointed' by Pakistan block

KARACHI, Pakistan, Sept 3- Grindr said on Thursday it was deeply disappointed by Pakistan’s decision this week to block it and four other dating apps including Tinder after they were deemed to be disseminating “immoral content”. Pakistan, the second largest Muslim-majority country in the world after Indonesia, is an Islamic nation where extra-marital…

By Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam

KARACHI, Pakistan, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Grindr said onThursday it was deeply disappointed by Pakistan’s decision thisweek to block it and four other dating apps including Tinderafter they were deemed to be disseminating “immoral content”.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said onTuesday it was seeking the removal of “dating services” fromapps Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi and asking them tomoderate live streamed content in accordance with local laws.

“We are deeply disappointed by the … decision to banGrindr and other dating apps that allow Pakistani citizens toconnect with others on our platforms,” Grindr’s chief operatingofficer Rick Marini said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

He said the U.S.-based company, which describes itself asthe world’s largest social networking app for gay, bisexual,transgender and queer people, was “exploring ways that we can beof service to the LGBTQ community in the region”.

Pakistan, the second largest Muslim-majority country in theworld after Indonesia, is an Islamic nation where extra-maritalrelationships and homosexuality are illegal.

A recent clampdown on online content by the PTA has alsoseen warnings given to other major platforms.

Tinder, a globally popular dating app owned by Match Group, said in an emailed response to Reuters that it wasalways willing to work with regulators and law enforcement.

“We welcome the opportunity to discuss our product andmoderation efforts with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authorityand look forward to a meaningful conversation,” a Tinderspokesperson said.

Grindr’s statement did not say whether it would seek todiscuss the matter further with Pakistani authorities.

On Wednesday, the PTA said it had asked video-sharingplatform YouTube to immediately block certain content forviewing in Pakistan, for the second time in a week.

YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc., was blocked inPakistan for three years until 2016.

Usama Khilji, director of BoloBhi, a Pakistani digitalrights advocacy group, said blocking content deemed to offenddecency and morality was a way of pressuring social mediacompanies into complying with government requests for user dataand censorship of content deemed critical of state policies.

“Dating apps are a soft target,” he told Reuters.(Additional reporting by Umar Farooq in Islamabad; Editing byCatherine Evans)

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