The Daily Beast apologized after publishing a story that may have outed gay Olympic athletes. Nico Hines’ Aug. 11 story, “The Other Olympic Sport in Rio: Swiping,” reported on Hines’ experience using dating and hookup apps including Bumble, Grindr, Jack’d and Tinder in the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Grindr is a gay app for “chat, meetup and date,” and Hines said he is straight. Throughout the apps, Hines said he “confessed to being a journalist as soon as anyone asked who I was.”
In a 300-word plus editor’s note, editor-in-chief John Avlon said it edited the story after readers complained and that it never intended to out anyone or be homophobic. Avlon admitted that the article “fell short” since “some readers” thought he was “sex-shaming” and disclosed that the Daily Beast edited its article. iMediaEthics has written to Avlon and Hines for more information, including to ask if any athletes complained.
“A number of readers complained to The Daily Beast after the publication of the original iteration of this story,” Avlon wrote in the note at the bottom of the article. “We take such complaints seriously because a central part of The Daily Beast’s mission is to fight for full equality and equal treatment for LGBT people around the world. Publishing an article that in any way could be seen as homophobic is contrary to our mission.”
Avlon said, “There was legitimate concern that the original version of this story might out gay male athletes, even by implication, or compromise their safety.”
He noted that Hines didn’t use names of those he saw on the apps and didn’t just describe people on gay dating apps. “But there was a concern that even mentioning the home nation of some gay athletes could compromise their safety,” Avlon conceded. “We apologize for potentially jeopardizing that safety in any way. As a result, we have removed all descriptions of the men and women’s profiles that we previously described.”
According to Avlon, Hines wanted to see “how dating and hook-up apps were being used in Rio by athletes” and didn’t intend to focus on Grindr. “It just so happened that Nico had many more responses on Grindr than apps that cater mostly to straight people, and so he wrote about that,” Avlon wrote. “Had he received straight invitations, he would have written about those. He never claimed to be anyone he was not, did not offer anything to anyone, and immediately admitted that he was a journalist whenever he was asked who he was.”
The Beast has heard readers’ concerns about an Olympic sex app story; we've updated + I've added an editor’s note. https://t.co/0fRVKy41Hi
— John Avlon (@JohnAvlon) August 11, 2016
Hat Tip: Steve Bien-Aime
UPDATE: 8/11/2016: 11:57 PM EST The Daily Beast deleted its article. More on this here.