The sources say that they had long-running concerns about data security, and that these were exacerbated when the app leadership put in place some unusual policies.
Scott Chen reportedly transferred internal communications over to China-based messaging platform WeChat, and started speaking exclusively in Chinese.
He is then alleged to have suggested a partnership with a group of HIV researchers who, the sources say, had links to the Chinese government. There was some discussion around placing an HIV researcher in the company as an intern.
A company email from Chen, seen by NBC News, reads: “We need to be extremely careful about [the HIV researchers’] data request. (…) We can’t let people say this is about ‘sharing user data with the Chinese government’.”
HIV data and sexual orientation data (of US military personnel in particular) has been highlighted as the kind of information that made Chinese ownership of the GBTQ dating platform worrisome.
One source said: “[CEO Scott Chen] was increasingly restricting access to any kind of information, transferring everything over to WeChat and conducting all communications in Chinese, so it was very hard to keep tabs and help effectively police [data].”
Grindr said in a statement: “Grindr and the Grindr for Equality team periodically engage in discussions with highly respected national and international health organizations and researchers, including to help stem the spread of the deadly HIV epidemic.
“Regardless of emails [NBC journalists] may have regarding a very preliminary internal discussion, Grindr has never engaged any intern associated in any way with the Chinese government.”
Read more here.