Grindr is the second-most banned social app—how to unblock it

The "Grindr" app logo is seen on a mobile phone screen
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Update: On May 22, 2024, after publication, Access Now confirmed that 13 countries are actually banning Grindr in 2024 as Malaysia joined the list in April. 

Grindr, the world's largest dating app for the LGBTQ+ community, is the second most blocked social media platform outside of India.

This means that gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people across 13 countries worldwide cannot access the popular app unless they are using one of the best VPN services.

This is one of the worrying findings included in the annual report of the digital rights advocacy group Access Now. Let's take a closer look at what's at stake and the steps to take to bypass restrictions.

Grindr blocks keep rising

As Access Now's latest report can reveal, there's a growing list of countries specifically targeting LGBTQ+ people by imposing blocks on platforms like Grindr.

Jordan and Tanzania both issued new blocks on Grindr last year, adding themselves to a list of already 10 countries censoring the popular app. Iran, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, and the UAE have been blocking Grindr for years. People in China, Indonesia, and Pakistan have also been forced to use secure VPN software to access the platform for a while.

"The widespread blocking of Grindr—the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people—is an especially telling indicator that authorities are using blocks to deliberately marginalize specific groups of people," wrote researchers. 

Grindr bans came hand in hand with a global wave of intolerance against the LGBTQ+ community. In Jordan, for example, authorities blocked Grindr for the first time in 2023, while attacks on queer people intensified across political benches and beyond.

Worse still, this worrying wave of blockage isn't giving any signs to stop, either. Malaysia joined the list of countries banning Grindr on April 17, 2024, bringing the toll to 13 nations worldwide censoring the popular queer dating app.

Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Manager at Access Now, believes this dire situation could even worsen throughout the year. She told me: "With anti-LGBTQ+ laws making their way through more and more countries around the world, censorship of LGBTQ+ websites and the blocking of apps such as Grindr are very likely to continue in 2024."  

Overall, Access Now describes 2023 as the "worst year of internet shutdowns ever recorded." Alongside widespread fixed and mobile connectivity blackouts, 53 platform blocks were enforced across 25 countries throughout the year. That's a considerable rise from the 39 blocks that occurred across 29 nations the year before.

In 2023, India was again the biggest perpetrator of service-based blocking orders worldwide. These orders rose from two censored apps in 2022 to 14 platforms last year. On top of this, three out of four countries implementing shutdowns for the first time in 2023 also engaged in platform blocking. These include Kenya blocking Telegram, Nepal banning TikTok, and Suriname turning against Meta services (Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram).

This spike in platform blocking may indicate that authorities perceive such a practice as more acceptable and less harmful than a total internet blackout, Access Now researchers explained. Yet, "disruption of platforms often disproportionately impacts targeted and marginalized communities or people who rely on them as their only viable mode of access to information and communication with loved ones, colleagues, customers, news sources, and service providers," the report reads.

For instance, Turkey blocked Twitter for just two days in 2023, but it was when people needed it the most: in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that killed over 15,000 people in both Turkey and Syria.

According to VPN firm Surfshark, at least 50 countries have reportedly pulled the plug on popular social media services like Facebook, Instagram, X, and TikTok since 2015 in what the provider describes as "a suppression of an essential avenue for transparency."

How to bypass Grindr ban with a VPN

A VPN, short for virtual private network, is security software that encrypts internet connections while spoofing your real IP address. The latter skill is exactly what you need to bypass government-imposed geo-restrictions, as it tricks your ISP into thinking you are in a completely different country within seconds.

Using a Grindr VPN is also advantageous in countries where the app isn't blocked to boost your online privacy.  Like similar online dating apps, Grindr collects some sensitive personal information like location data and IP addresses that might be used against you—especially in nations where LGBTQ+ people are under attack.

Below are the simple steps to take to use Grindr with a VPN: 

  1. Download your chosen VPN app. I recommend checking our best free VPN guide to find the most reliable freebie out there. 
  2. Connect to a server located in a country where Grindr is available.
  3. Start using Grindr as you normally would—but with more privacy!

It's worth mentioning, though, that Jordan's law criminalizes the use of VPNs, proxy services, and Tor browser to circumvent censorship. While downloading and using a circumvention tool won't be illegal per se, utilizing a fictitious IP address to access blocked social media platforms and censored foreign media could be weaponized by authorities.

That's particularly concerning considering that, as Access Now pointed out, last year's cybercrime law came at a time when Jordan was blocking increasing numbers of websites. 


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Chiara Castro
Senior Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to