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Jack’d, a popular gay social media and hookup app, has introduced a new safety measure aimed at protecting its users, company officials announced.

By Nathan James

Like similar, competing apps, Jack’d uses geolocation tags to let users know their proximity to other subscribers, by “pinging” their phones’ GPS data.

Now, says Jack’d global marketing director Alon Rivel, this information will be obscured, in response to the alarming rise in anti-gay hate crimes in the United States. Originally developed for use in countries known to be hostile to gay men, “such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt that have a history of violence against the gay community,” Rivel says, “we wanted to protect these members even from the authorities in those countries.

With the accession of Donald Trump to the White House, Rivel notes, “there has been a surge in bullying and hate crimes against the LGBTQ community in the US. As a result, a growing number of gay men here want to increase their privacy and keep their locations private, too.”

The new software protocol will “blur” the locations of all Jack’d members–even the company’s own servers won’t know exact locations. “This will prevent our users from being tracked down to a specific address,” Rivel points out, “so no one will be at undue risk“. With about 450,000 members using the global platform, Jack’d officials say the roll-out of this new feature is part of their ongoing commitment to the LGBTQ community.

In a press release, Jack’d underscored the severity of the situation. “There is good reason to count the USA among the unsafe countries for gay men today,” the company stated, citing statistics from several major American cities showing a rise in gay-bashing incidents.

In New York City, the police department attributed the increase to President Trump’s election. “The world will live in is still not LGBTQ tolerant and with 70% of our users being young millennials, we have to be proactive in protecting their privacy,” Rivel observed. He says the company will soon unveil other improvements, “designed to help our users stay safe“, as well as enhancing the Jack’d experience.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recently reported that 2016 was the “deadliest year on record” for anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, even after controlling for the Pulse nightclub massacre, in which 49 patrons were slaughtered by an unhinged gunman.