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Parent company of gay dating app Scruff, Perry Street Software, has bought its LGBTQ rival Jack’d, while acknowledging the company’s missteps in the past.

The move to acquire 5 million Jack’d users – 50 percent of which are based in Asia, according to LGBTQ nation – has given Perry Street Software a foothold into the Asian market – which is something that main competitor, US-based Grindr (now owned by Beijing-based Kulun Tech), has been unable to achieve.

The company says there are no plans to combine the two apps, which claim a total of 20 million gay, bisexual, trans and queer members.

A troubled past

In recent months, Jack’d suffered from some serious security flaws – which left private photos (including nude) of 1,900 users exposed on a server accessible for anyone to download.

The original owners of Jack’d, Online Buddies, knew the photos were vulnerable to exposure, after being alerted to the problem, but failed to do anything about it. It ultimately resulted in a settlement of $240,000, and the requirement to improve security.

Along with leaked images, gay dating apps have leaked people’s locations, and even HIV status – all of which is terrifying considering the many ways in which the LGBTQ community regularly come under attack, particularly in the 72 countries where homosexuality is still illegal.

A brighter future?

Perry Street Software advocates for LGBTQ+ owned-and-operated companies that prioritize the protection of the community from technological exposure to homophobic and transphobic discrimination.

CEO of Perry Street Software, Eric Silverberg, keenly acknowledges the technological faults on Jack’d, and plans to invest significant resources to upgrade the app. And if Scruff’s approach is anything to go by, this might well actually happen.

Scruff, which is largely known as a gay travel companion app, removed its programmatic advertising last year, says that it doesn’t sell member data to data brokers, and supports GDPR and privacy-focused legislative efforts.

Silverberg says that providing Jack’d members “with the same combination of technology and active moderation we have developed at Scruff” will protect the community “against harassment, spam bots, scammers and risks while travelling.”

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Oli Lipski
Oli is a freelance sex tech researcher based in London. With an MA in Sexual Dissidence, researching sex tech, and a BA in History, researching gender and sexuality, she has a keen understanding of the past, present and future of sex.

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