Grindr Shares Your HIV Status, A Disney Princess Comes Out, and You Love Lucy; What About Desi?

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Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball

A new biopic on Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz is closer to reality, Alyson Stoner changes the Disney Channel and Grindr is caught sero-sorting — and sharing the info.

Grinding to a Halt

The Wal-Mart of dating apps, Grindr, may be turned into hash by the gay community after it’s been revealed that the company has been sharing the HIV status of its clients with at least two private firms that lend a hand in “optimizing” apps, Apptimize and Localytics.

That’s not all. Among the other details you thought were yours to share with those you choose, Grindr has been providing users’ e-mail addresses, phone numbers, GPS locations and screen names. In other words, it wouldn’t take anyone with tech savvy more than a few minutes to find out who you are, where you are and what your sero-status might happen to be.

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Grindr also divulges users’ sexual orientation, relationship status, “tribe” (any subset of the gay community you might identify with, such as Dom or sub, twink or bear), and race with the companies if the information is listed in their profile. These revelations compound a security breach discovered less than a month ago when it was revealed that users’ location data was being shared — even when they opt out.

Scott Chen, Grindr’s Chief Technology Officer answered the charges in an interview with BuzzFeed, where the data sharing was confirmed. “Thousands of companies use these highly-regarded platforms,” Chen is quoted as saying. “These are standard practices in the mobile app ecosystem,”

Chen was quick to add that no Grindr user information is sold to third parties: “We pay these software vendors to utilise their services.”

In attempting to manage the damage, Chen tells Buzzfeed that “the limited information shared with these platforms is done under strict contractual terms that provide for the highest level of confidentiality, data security, and user privacy.”

What he doesn’t say is that Grindr has recently become — depending on your point of view — either very proactive or aggressive in pushing its clients to declare their HIV status and the date of their last test — without making any corresponding move to say “because we want to share your status with outside firms.”

It’s tough enough for many to confide their sero-status, let alone have that intimate detail become part of a data bank.

The data sharing came to light shortly after the launch of an independent website that enabled Grindr’s clients to discover who blocked them. In signing up for the website, users were required to supply their username and password. The website blew the whistle on Grindr after learning just how much information was easily accessible — including deleted photos, unread messages, private data and location information.

Further developments are almost certain, and likely imminent.

Who Loves Lucy?

Well, the man behind The West Wing, The Social Network and Molly’s Game certainly does. Aaron Sorkin has written a docudrama around the power couple behind Desilu Productions — Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and the project has been picked up by Amazon Studios, the streaming service behind hits like The Man in the High Castle.

Cate Blanchett has already agreed to play Ball, who became America’s favorite ditzy redhead onscreen, while shrewdly building a business empire to rival any Hollywood studio. The project also has the blessing of Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill (who’s husband starred in the original off-Broadway production of The Boys in the Band) and Desi Arnaz, Jr. Still to be cast: I Love Lucy next-door neighbors Fred and Ethel, and Desi Arnaz. Javier Bardem is said to be among those being considered.

Stepping Up — and Out

Alyson Stoner, familiar to many Disney fans from Cheaper By the Dozen and the Step Up series has come out to Teen Vogue in a touching and emotive essay. She first confesses being instantly smitten by a first encounter with her dance instructor. Following her bolt-from-the-blue moment, she texted her Mother to write, “I met a woman today, I’m not sure who she is or what I’m feeling, but I think she’s going to be in my life for a very long time.”

Stoner, who hadn’t experienced same-sex crushes before, soon felt faced with emotions that were not “quite sisterly or platonic.” She also had to admit that, over the years, she’d “internalized some of the harmful beliefs and misconceptions about LGBTQ people and identities.”

Happily, the Disney star is in a better place of acceptance and is actually rejoicing in the freedom to love whomever she chooses. Here’s what she wrote:

“I, Alyson, am attracted to men, women, and people who identify in other ways. I can love people of every gender identity and expression. It is the soul that captivates me. It is the love we can build and the goodness we can contribute to the world by supporting each other’s best journeys.”

Welcome to the club, girl. We’re glad to have you.

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Last modified: February 15, 2019