When my team came up with the idea of posting top 10 hottest GrindR profiles in Atlanta (where we are based), we had an internal debate: Is it ethical for us to post pictures on a popular blog without asking permission?
There are hundreds if not thousands of blogs and websites that post GrindR photos on a regular basis. Heck, some sites like Oh GrindR and GrindR LOL are devoted to posting GrindR pictures.
While they make fun of GrindR profiles, we celebrate them. If your GrindR profile appears on most of those other sites, you can bet your headless pic they're making fun of you. If you appear on our site, you can bet your shirtless shot that we've paid you a compliment.
That said, the question remains: Did we violate people's privacy by posting their pictures without permission? The argument for privacy violation is that there are a lot of closeted or semi-closeted people on GrindR. Being on a "Best Of" list might be better then being on a "Worst Of," but it still runs the risk of outing somebody who doesn't want other people to know that: a) they're gay b) cheating on their partner, or c) using a bathhouse app to hook up.
The consequences could be very real: a loss of a job, a relationship, or at the very least, some embarrassment. While the consequences are potentially real and possibly severe, it's like saying that Anthony Weiner's privacy was violated when the media published dick pics he himself publicly distributed.
When you use a public app to distribute pictures of yourself (or your body parts) to the public for the purposes of getting people to look at you, I think you have forfeited the right to complain if somebody uses those pictures without asking you. After all, you didn't just upload pictures of yourself without knowing that complete strangers -- as well as people you know -- will look at them. You did it knowing that strangers can easily download your pictures through screen captures and send them to their friends.
According to the New York Times ,GrindR has 5 million users. The question of whether we violated people's privacy by posting their pictures taken from an app with 5 million users stretches credulity. Perhaps there would be a point if we were a straight site trying to out public figures, but we are a gay dating advice site celebrating love, sex, relationships and beauty. What is the difference between posting your pictures on an app with 5 million users and having them reposted on a gay dating advice blog that has 50,000 visitors? It's a difference without a distinction.
According to politifact.com, Atlanta is home to one of the highest concentration of gay households. And if we may be so bold to say, home to the highest concentration of good-looking gay guys-- as evidenced by our top 10 picks of guys. We are not violating people's privacy; we are celebrating their beauty.
So far, only one person asked us to remove their picture, which we promptly did. There are definite grumblings about ethics in some of the comments, but as one person said, "I don't know what would make me angrier -- if I made the list or if I didn't."
Michael Alvear is the founder of the blog, Gay Dating Success!