Social Networking

Politicians on Grindr! And Another Taboo Crumbles

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Social media just lends itself to politics. Facebook has become a place for some elected officials to be more transparent, while Twitter allows others to gauge their popularity and (more importantly) entertain the rest of with their endless gaffes, typos, and ill-conceived thoughts. Now, if lawmakers really want to stay on top of the game, they may want to register for the gay dating app Grindr.

That's what two Dutch politicians, Jan-Bert Vroege and Pieter Rietman, are doing in preparation of local elections on March 19.

Reuters reported last week:

"We are very fond of new technology and new media," Jan-Bert Vroege, an openly gay candidate for the D66 party, told Reuters on Wednesday.

"We are also into making Amsterdam a lively gay destination—and using Grindr we can get that message to all the gay people of Amsterdam."

Vroege's Grindr profile asks "Have I got a date with you on March 19?" but he stresses he is only offering chats, not dates.

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"We've been doing this for two days, and in the first night I got 35 connections … People thought this was a great way to bring attention to the elections and D66," said Vroege.

The app may end up being a great tool to bring politicians closer and more responsive to constituents. Vroege told Vice magazine, "It's not just about getting your message out there; it's more about listening to what people want to say to you."

Because Grindr relies on GPS technology to pinpoint nearby singles (or, in this case, voters), this "method of connecting users might make it perfect for a local election," suggests Tim Sampson of The Daily Dot.

Whether Grindr catches on has yet to be seen. Someone could easily develop a localized, single-demographic app specifically for political. But in the meantime, Vroege's and Reitman's use of Grindr helps wear away at the taboo of politicians' personal lives, particularly those using gay dating sites–which has cost at least one his career in the past.  

Read Reason's Scott Shackford on how technology has helped mainstream the LGBT community in the U.S.