Daily Beast Removes Article Outing Closeted Olympic Athletes Using Grindr After Backlash

The Daily Beast says it has taken the “unprecedented but necessary step” of removing a widely condemned article published on Thursday, after readers realized that it was possible to identify a number of closeted gay Olympic athletes with whom a reporter, who is straight, had communicated with via Grindr.

London correspondent Nico Hines published a piece describing his attempts to use several dating apps, such as Tinder and Grindr, near the Olympic Village in the Rio de Janeiro suburb of Barra da Tijuca.

[RELATED: Olympic Silver Medalist Gus Kenworthy Condemns Journalist For Outing Closeted Athletes In Rio]

Though Hines chose to leave their names out, he included physical descriptions of the Olympians as well as essentially outing one athlete who Hines’ said hailed from a “notoriously homophobic country”.

Slate slammed the piece as “homophobic,” “dangerous,” “sleazy,” “poisonous,” and a work of “mendacious deception.” Gay rights activist Dan Savage called for the Olympics to revoke the reporter’s press credentials.

Amini Fonua, an openly gay Olympic swimmer from Tonga, where sodomy is a crime, took to twitter to blast Hines’s story as “deplorable.”

Initially, The Daily Beast substantially edited the article, and appended an apologetic editors’ note. On Thursday night, the site decided to completely remove it from their website:

We initially thought swift removal of any identifying characteristics and better clarification of our intent was the adequate way to address this. Our initial reaction was that the entire removal of the piece was not necessary. We were wrong.

Today we did not uphold a deep set of The Daily Beast’s values. These values—which include standing up to bullies and bigots, and specifically being a proudly, steadfastly supportive voice for LGBT people all over the world—are core to our commitment to journalism and to our commitment to serving our readers.

The article’s removal came after nearly universal condemnation from hundreds of news outlets, including Fusion, Yahoo! Sports, MIC, Huffington Post, Slate, and Outsports, among others.

MIC.com’s Mathew Rodriguez notes that one of the athletes Hines endangered was an Olympian from Central Asia, a region in which LGBT people are “marginalized, criminalized, and are exposed to high levels of violence, harassment and discrimination,” according to one U.S. congressman’s testimony.

Rodriguez adds:

In this pseudo-ethnographic piece, Hines has failed at meeting one of journalism’s central tenets. For reference, the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics has an entire section on “minimizing harm.” In it, SPJ says, “Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.”