The Imposters of Hookup Apps: 'I'm HIV+ & Like to Infect Young Guys'
What we know is that last month a gay man used a dating app to arrange for another to visit him in Bayswater, London, and that instead of sex taking place, the first visitor left quickly as a second appeared at the door brandishing what is believed to be a cattle prod. It is a nightmare realised for many who use such apps — in particular gay men, proportionately the biggest users. It feeds into old fears — the unknown, the alien — about the new age of dating. It begs for hysterical headlines and trembling columns about the sinister possibilities lurking in our smartphones.
What is striking, however, is how rare such occurrences are.
But most are no different to any dating trauma: Someone wetting themselves. I did not think this was fine.
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No, iPhone stranger danger is not what we must fear — our partner or ex is many, many times more likely to beat or murder us than a random hookup. Instead, the dangers of dating apps are less obvious, more insidious, especially for gay people restricted in our dating opportunities. We compete at the mercy of the marketplace.
12 times women responded to creepy guys on dating apps with expert trolling.
Amorality rules, vacuity wins, and winning is all. It is a bargain basement plunge, pandering to basic instincts. We become body parts, framed, screened — a Damien Hirst minus the formaldehyde. We are torso, or face, or bicep, or bottom. Choose me, order me, I can be at yours in seconds. Only 20 metres away!
Can you feel the liberation yet? I sense only the banal assimilation of individuals into types: Sexual racism rules, of course. Guys with disabilities unsure which fetish they fit. We lose at love, too.
2. Giving them a makeover.
Apps enable our checklists like nothing before. Search by height, age, area, ethnicity, fetish, body type, body hair — all within a mile radius. We forget how stupid our criteria are. Apps are a lifeline for those in the closet, say some.
One HIV-positive man we spoke to discovered that someone had set up a fake Grindr profile, using his pics, identifying him by name, and disclosing his HIV-positive status. What followed was a convoluted, stressful episode in which he had to learn to navigate the app and attempt to report the profile. The whole process lasted weeks and resulted in him moving to another city, such was the anxiety around having his HIV status disclosed without his consent. We approached Grindr multiple times through its PR agency, but it declined to comment.
His anxiety is perfectly justifiable. This is an era in which police and health department officials are trawling apps like Grindr to build cases against and in some instances entrap HIV-positive people to charge them with infecting or exposing others to HIV. There are several reasons someone might set up these fake profiles. None of them are warranted, and in no instance should you feel responsible for causing someone to do something as potentially harmful as impersonate you and disclose your HIV status without your permission.
Antigay pastor trolled Grindr for gay sex
Still, here are the most likely culprits. The personal connection. This is often the most common offender: One man named Caleb believes he was targeted by someone he had previously rejected online.
In this instance, the fake profile misrepresented his status, identifying Caleb as HIV-positive Caleb is negative on both Grindr and Scruff. After talking his partner off the ledge, Caleb jumped online to set up a second profile to track down his impostor and report him. Caleb managed to get the profile taken down after reporting it to Grindr, and he is now trying to reach out to the person responsible to let him know that his actions were hurtful.
The gay troll. Rather, like the more common straight troll, the gay troll hangs out in digital spaces and goes out of his way to make life difficult for others. The sad truth is that many trolls setting up these fake profiles come from the gay and bi community. The moral entrepreneur.