Dating app for polyamorous people accuses Google of suppressing ‘unconventional thoughts’

#open dating

The founders of polyamorous dating app Open (styled as #open) have accused Google of trying to suppress “unconventional thoughts”, after Google Play removed the app from its store on March 6.

Google says the app, which helps users “connect and explore with ethically non-monogamous people and their partners”, the founders say, was removed because a description update violated Google Play’s sexual content and profanity policy.

The offending phrases Google Play highlighted were ‘threesomes’, ‘3some’, ‘kinky dates’ and ‘DTF’: an initialism of ‘down to fuck’.

On Monday (March 15), the app, which is still available on Apple’s app store, remained banned from Google Play. Open co-founders Amanda Wilson and David Epstein told SEXTECHGUIDE that they had removed the four offending phrases from the app’s description and were awaiting the result of a removal appeal.

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They tweeted that the removal was “another example of how quickly and effortlessly thousands of marginalized individuals can be silenced. Facebook, Instagram and other large tech companies alike continue to suppress content, ideologies and in turn, communities, through vague ‘guidelines’ that seem to conveniently apply to unconventional brands and thoughts.”

SEXTECHGUIDE has asked Google Play for comment. No response had been received at the time of publication.

Launched in 2016, Open features around 90,000 profiles, with around 85 percent of users based in the US. It allows you to message other users interested in non-monogamous relationships and interactions.

The app’s ‘mission’, according to its website, includes users treating each other “with the respect, compassion, and empathy that we all deserve… respecting the desires and boundaries of others is what makes us what we are — affirmative, enthusiastic consent isn’t optional in our interactions with each other, it is absolutely required.”

Epstein and Wilson suggested that by removing the app, Google was wrongly associating non-monogamous lifestyle services with an activity that should be outright banned. Open says it has also been blocked from buying advertising on Facebook.

“Anything that’s sex positive is immediately put under this microscope,” Epstein said on Monday. “It’s lumped in with really negative things.”

“It’s crazy to build a community where the basic principles are open communication and honesty, and to have that lumped in with it all being about sex. It’s so much more than that,” Wilson says. She added that with the US still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, services such as her app were vital.

“There’s so much shame and guilt around people’s sexual desires, that when you are isolated from people that want to do the same things that you want to do, that can be even further isolating,” she said. “We have a community of people who need to find each other and support each other.”

Read next: Australian bill proposes making people scan their face before accessing porn

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Jamie F
Jamie F

Jamie is a freelance writer, contributing to outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN and Vice, among others. He is also the creative force behind the Audible podcast Beast Master.

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SEXTECHGUIDE, launched in 2016 ahead of the sextech boom, is the go-to online platform for discovering, reviewing, and learning about the fast-paced world of sexual technology. We bridge the gap between sex and technology reporting by focusing on timely news stories, impartial reviews, and thoughtful opinion pieces.
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