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In-Depth: China’s Leading Gay Dating App Navigates Rough Waters

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What is the most popular dating app in southeast Asia? What is the most popular comic app in China? Chen Liang — an early adopter of Blued who is identified here with a pseudonym — said that before apps like Blued appeared, LGBT people in China often had trouble finding dates and friendship, especially in smaller cities.

Zhang interviewed boys who said they had created their Blued accounts when they were as young as Multiple high-schoolers that he spoke to said they had met up with older men through the app, and some said they had been pressured into having sex. Zhang said that a number of underage interviewees told him they had contracted HIV from people they met through Blued.

Zhang has not published his research, but he shared his findings with Caixin. Hu Wei, the leader of a major LGBT community welfare organization who is not identified here by his real name at his request, said that in the past two years, almost all the new cases of HIV infection found by his organization involved people who had met sexual partners through Blued, including one year-old boy.

Hu also told Caixin he had encountered in his work children as young as 12 who said they were using Blued.

But Zhang said men who contracted HIV through sex with other men were in an especially vulnerable position in China, since official organizations in many parts of the country refuse to discuss homosexuality and avoid doing necessary community health care and outreach work. Blued has tried to fill that gap through Danlan, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Blued that provides sex education and free HIV testing, as well as through educational videos livestreamed by the group.

Blued executives contacted by Caixin did not deny that there were minors using the app, but Ma said the intention had never been to target minors. Amid a mass crackdown on Chinese livestreaming services in the past two years, Blued changed its policies to require real-name authentication from all streamers. Jiang said that, while broadcasting a live video recently, he was in contact with a person who claimed to be 18 years old but was later revealed to be only Hu, the leader of the LGBT organization, told Caixin that he felt there was increasingly more content on Blued showing drug use, pornography, and casual sex.

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Ma told Caixin that if the government asks Blued to demand real-name authentication for all users in the future, the company would adjust its policy to do so. But, he said, the company had no plan to implement this requirement on its own. Ma also said the company would not move in the direction of foreign apps like Grindr, which in began allowing users to identify their own HIV status and whether they were on pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP. A man opens the mobile app Blued in Shanghai, Jan.

In April, video app Kuaishou came under fire from Chinese authorities for allowing girls allegedly as young as 13 to post videos about teen pregnancy and for using its algorithm to promote these videos to viewers. Kuaishou responded by shutting down the accounts of users posting about teenage pregnancy and issued multiple public apologies. As a rare space in China for gay men to socialize and express themselves, Blued faces more expectations than the average startup.

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LESDO (乐Do) is arguably the largest lesbian dating app in China, boasting million users. Founded by a team of gay women, the startup. Chinese gay dating app Blued is halting new user registration for a week, it said on Sunday, following media reports that underage users.

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Forbidden love: Being gay in China

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