Russia Bans Popular Gay Dating App in Sochi During Olympics

Monday Feb 3, 2014
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Dmitry T., founder of Hunters, the most popular Russian gay hook-up app, posted on his Facebook page that at midnight between February 1st and 2nd, hacker attack was made on the app which affected all its users in Russia, while in Sochi the app was completely blocked.

"I can’t believe it! Last night Hunters was hacked. This attack affected over 72,000 users in Russia, while in Sochi the app was completely blocked.

The hackers didn’t leave any traces, but it is clear from an obvious spelling mistake that they were not native English speakers. I’m sure that the attackers were acting in the interest of Russian authorities.

The anonymous threat which read, "You will be arrested and jailed for gay propaganda in Sochi according to Russian Federal Law #135 Sektion 6" was sent on February 1st, 2014 at 11:52 pm to all users in Russia, including those in Sochi.

Hunters is blocked in Sochi and Adler now, and some 72,000 user profiles were deleted throughout Russia. Hackers completely destroyed their profiles and all their messages."

On the morning of February 2nd, just a few days before the opening of the Olympic Games, users trying to open this gay app in Sochi were greeted with an alert saying that their profile was blocked for the next 55,000 minutes (38 days).

Next, Dmitry explains:

"It looks like the Russian Government decided to take full control of the Internet and implement Turkish practices where Grindr has been banned for almost half a year. I think that this attack is connected to increasing censorship of the Internet and very soon other gay dating resources in Russia will face similar problems.

Our team was able to restore 24% of the profiles after 12 long hours. All other profiles were unable to be restored. In order to protect our users from future injustice, we have started moving our servers from Russia to Europe and are planning to finish this process within the next 3-5 days. Therefore, Hunters users may face further disruptions in the coming days.

I urge the entire gay community and all of those who consider the Internet to be a free zone to boycott not only Russian vodka but also everything that is linked to the Olympics and not to buy any Olympic souvenirs."

This attack should be looked at as an attack on the worldwide gay community with the goal of blocking any gay interactions during the Winter Games in Sochi, including those between athletes and locals.

The Hunters app with over 1,2M users worldwide enables gay guys not only to hook-up but to also find homes, friends and jobs, which is particularly important for gay people in Russia and around the world.

UPDATE. On February 3rd Dmitry posted on his Facebook page that no users’ financial details were compromised during this attack, as this information is reliably protected by Google and Apple.

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