May 24, 2024

Users react to queer dating app’s new direction • TechCrunch

Lex, the hookup and social application that launched in 2019 with a nod to lesbian particular advertisements from the 80s, is altering. Only, exactly how significantly will adjust is nevertheless an open up problem. Confident, the enterprise-backed startup driving the queer application gave it a new lick of paint last week, but in refocusing on “friends and group,” some people concern that Lex will also scrub absent its beloved, raunchy essence.

Home to personals both sexy and healthful, the text-based mostly service grew above the past couple of many years into a queer community newspaper of kinds — a place for females, trans, genderqueer and non-binary people to announce meetups, come across live performance tickets, share poetry, crack in-jokes or simply just cruise. Given its breadth and silliness, the application conjures up smiles and eye-rolls alike among the queer folks in my orbit.

Lex satisfies a have to have that is normally shunned by mainstream tech Craigslist, which famously upended the newspaper classifieds business enterprise, shuttered its online personals element a calendar year in advance of Lex launched. Social giants like Meta and TikTok, meanwhile, choose a mostly puritanical attitude to sex and sexuality. Apple, which sets the floor-rules for mainstream applications by way of its app shop, is also totally prude. Tech’s censorship-prone gatekeepers — as properly as the broader sample of corporations sanitizing, and then monetizing, queer tradition — leave a lot of LGBTQIA+ folks fairly cautious of social media.

So, it is no surprise that Lex’s announcement of a “new look” and “new direction” has rubbed people today the wrong way, even as thirsty putting up carries on on the app.

Lex publicized its redesign on January 26, emphasizing its purpose in encouraging people locate “LGBTQ+ buddies & queer community.” A push release laid out the app’s evolution “from a dating application to a vibrant social system,” whilst an Instagram write-up from the business highlighted a shift from personalized ads in direction of group chats and meetups. Employing a how it commenced meme, the startup contrasted its origins (sharing lesbian imagery and personals on Instagram) with a write-up for a trans tea occasion with “scones and jam.”

But by omission, is Lex attempting to tidy by itself up? The uproar I observed in reaction to the redesign was not common, but it was swift.

“Wtf lex …queer fucking is sacred, not some commodity,” mentioned 1 person in a general public post. Yet another wrote: “Let’s hold it 🥵 😘🫦. I value the work to make Lex improved for platonic queer relationships, but I loathe the new society of sanitizing the internet and washing our sexuality away from just about every platform.”

A screenshot of the new Lex design, which features a large green bar two posts. The first is titled, 'ISO queer birders" and the second reads, "Will you BEE mine?"

New Lex is inexperienced. Aged Lex was blue.

Many others praised and critiqued Lex’s new glance. One particular consumer mentioned the redesign built the app a lot more welcoming, although yet another named it sweet. I chimed in on the app’s new shade plan, indicating, “it ain’t easy remaining environmentally friendly. but at the very least it’s not twitter.” (I had fully neglected that TechCrunch works by using a comparable hue… whoops!) I solicited additional responses on the new path by means of the app alone, and I read from about a dozen folks, most of whom expressed some degree of worry.

Lily, a Lex user, instructed me she hated the change. “Queer spaces attempting to shift by themselves away from centering sex = offering in to a homophobic culture,” she reported, clarifying: “People ended up utilizing this application for all forms of matters just before, so there is no need to have to really encourage “social” use except you are trying to discourse other employs (i.e. intercourse).” A different person claimed the app appeared far more subversive before the redesign. “I’m def in the ‘keep Lex filthy’ camp,” they additional.

A single user instructed me, “there’s sufficient social media out there. what I most well-liked about unique lex was the craigslist sensation.” Nevertheless a different person cautioned, “There’s significantly more at participate in in the sanitization of one queer former courting app. Just seem at the yearly no kink at pleasure debate and how generally it’s reported that there must be no signs of sexuality in areas if we want to be deserving of our homosexual rights.”

Afterwards on, a new consumer who joined after the redesign told me she noticed the issues and felt like she “missed out lol.”

Asked about the path of the app, Lex founder Kel Rakowski informed TechCrunch that the firm “surveyed hundreds of Lexers and discovered that the too much to handle the greater part required a system to come across queer mates and community in their place.” Rakowski pointed me to a person exploration sign-up website page and explained Lex pays buyers for suggestions. The founder and CEO went on to say that Lex’s “all queer team” is “in command of all products conclusions.” She added, “Our traders never ever interfere with the vision of Lex.”

On the matter of sex, Rakowski claimed, “We encourage Lexers looking for dates and hookups to go on sexy posting on Lex! It’s their place to hook up, for appreciate, friendship and more.”

According to the base of Lex’s Conditions of Use webpage, the enterprise previous up to date its insurance policies on November 1, 2022. The conditions condition that people agree their written content will not include “obscene, pornographic, violent, or sexually specific substance.” Lex’s conditions determine articles as “all text, photographs, online video, audio, or other material.” In other words and phrases, the organization maintains its capability to choose down captivating posts, even so that doesn’t suggest it is actively executing so. This is quite regular, boilerplate language as much as application phrases go. In the founder’s words, “one of the reasons we built Lex as an app and moved away from web hosting on Instagram was to be unbiased and steer clear of the polices of Meta.”

When asked, Lex declined to say how many people use its app, but Rakowski mentioned the company is “growing rapidly in towns across the US,” and its “top towns are NYC, Chicago [and] LA.” The 10-human being workforce behind Lex has elevated at least $1.5 million to date, from investors this sort of as Corigin Ventures, Bumble Fund and Bonobos founder Andy Dunn.

Know anything about Lex’s new direction? Arrive at out to this reporter via Twitter or e mail.

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