Sex curious chat
For those who don't know, Grindr describes itself as a "simple, fast, fun, and free way to find and meet gay, bi and curious guys for dating, socializing, and friendship." It's one of an emerging set of location-based technologies targeted at gay men looking to socialize, where "socialize" can mean a wide variety of things, including chatting, hooking up to have sex or developing a friendship.You start up the app and immediately see how close other users are and some information about them. Manhunt, Jack'd, Scruff and Maleforce all have i Phone or Android apps, and sites like Gay Romeo.com, Adam4and uk have been letting gay/bi/curious men filter user profiles by geographic location for years.Such sites, applications, and the practices they make possible are becoming almost downright mainstream: Sharif Mowlabocus wrote a whole book on what he calls "Gaydar Culture"; Online Buddies (the makers of Manhunt) partners with academics to conduct innovative world-wide research on online gay male practices; and Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai was a panelist this year at SXSW Interactive.So if all of this is becoming so seemingly mainstream, why is it being linked to sex offenders?To be starting points for conversation, designers must first acknowledge that recommendation systems (both those that are run by humans and those relying upon algorithms) have the power to suggest and constrain expression.Bizarre links between Grindr and Sex Offender Search can be great starting points for those who are privileged enough to recognize nonsensical associations, possess enough technical knowledge to understand how such systems might make links, and have the confidence and communication skills to argue the point with friends, family members and others.He immediately learns that he's about to download something onto his phone that in some way -- some way that he doesn't entirely understand -- associates him with registered sex offenders. In the best case, he knows that the association is ridiculous, gets a little angry, vows to do more to combat such stereotypes, downloads the application and has a bit more courage as he explores his identity.In a worse case, he sees the association, freaks out that he's being tracked and linked to sex offenders, doesn't download the application and continues feeling isolated.
so you can keep your family safe."I was flabbergasted. In essence: Who did this linking, how does it work, and what harm is it doing?
For example, if recommendation systems suggest that certain associations are more reasonable, rational, common or acceptable than others we run the risk of silencing minorities.
(This is the well-documented "Spiral of Silence" effect political scientists routinely observe that essentially says you are less likely to express yourself if you think your opinions are in the minority, or likely to be in the minority in the near future.)* * *Imagine for a moment a gay man questioning his sexual orientation.
Now imagine the reverse situation where someone downloads the Sex Offender Search application and sees that Grindr is listed as a "related" or "relevant" application.
In the best case, people see the link as ridiculous, questions where it might have come from, and start learning about what other kind of erroneous assumptions (social, legal and cultural) might underpin the Registered Sex Offender system.
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Is the Android Marketplace noticing a large overlap between those who download Grindr and those who install Sex Offender Search?