Building Healthy Online Communities (BHOC) works with dating aps to reduce online stigma and hate from within

From the BHOC report

While gay, bi, and trans people have long been subjected to discrimination, stigma and hate speech from outside our communities, the way we treat one another can also cause harm. Too often, people within the queer community hurt others because of their race, gender identity, age, body size, disability, or because they’re living with HIV. This was true long before the internet, social networks, and apps provided the means to fuel harmful behavior. People take advantage of the anonymity the internet provides to say things they would never say in person. Too often, dating app and site users do the same. “No fats,” “No femmes,” “Clean only” – these words and their derogatory implications are all too prevalent on sites.

two men walking while looking at their cell phones

This kind of hate speech can cause not only psychological harm but can also facilitate HIV risk.Yale Researchers, John Pachankis and Charles Burton, found that for some gay and bi men,being repeatedly rejected by other gay and bi men online, and having a lower ‘status’ in thesexual marketplace–like not having a gym-toned body or masculine gender expression–isassociated with greater risk taking and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Building HealthyOnline Communities (BHOC), a consortium of national and local HIV and STD preventionagencies working with the owners of dating sites and app owners to support their users’ sexualhealth, decided to take action to reduce stigma for gay, bi, and trans app and site users.

BHOC reached out to app and site owners and found that there was widespread support among them to look for ways to make the experience better for everyone. Adam4Adam, Daddyhunt,dudesnude, Grindr, GROWLr, Jack’d, Manhunt, POZ Personals, and SCRUFF all joined in, andthrough advertising and messaging recruited more than 5,500 users to share ideas on whatapps and sites could do to help reduce online stigma. This was the first time that apps and siteshave come together to address an industry-wide issue.  

Read the full report

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