Datin app Scruff has removed all programmatic advertising from the app and will solely work with select advertising partners specifically for the GBTQ community, including non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, health institutes, and travel and lifestyle brands. The move coincides with a recent Facebook advertising scandal, where the platform was micro-targeting LGBTQ users with ads preaching "sexual purity" and "cures" for same-sex attraction.
Additionally, users will no longer be required to list their ethnicity. As racism in dating apps (particularly gay dating apps) continues to rise Scruff hopes to create a more inclusive community within the app, and allow users to ignite meaningful conversations on their own parameters, regardless of their race or ethnicity.
Scruff CEO and co-founder Eric Silverberg says members can be assured that their data will be used to only to help them meet and connect with other guys, not to target advertising for products. “Though this decision will cost Scruff revenue in the short-term, we believe it is the right long-term decision because it creates the best experience for our community,” says the CEO.
Scruff CEO Eric Silverberg
Silverberg continued, “While banner ads placed by companies like Google AdMob and Twitter MoPub sustained our business in the beginning, for the past several years this advertising has become irrelevant, deceptive, and in some cases malicious. After the 2016 US election, the general public became much more cognizant of where and how data was used without their explicit permission. This year, the European Union began enforcing its new General Date Protection Regulation (GDPR) law, which gives European citizens control over and rights to the data shared with apps. Because Scruff is global, we wanted to ensure that we could apply a consistent set of policies worldwide. Our members entrust us with deeply personal and sensitive information, and it didn’t feel ethical for us to hold US users to a different, arguably lower standard of privacy than EU users. When we determined that it would be impossible to continue to use third party ad networks and comply with GDPR, we elected to remove them once and for all. Scruff has not integrated with Facebook nor supported Facebook logins for several years, and while in the past we might have considered such an integration, the 2016 election and resulting Cambridge Analytica scandal has confirmed that we should not and will not ever consider this kind of integration.”
Silverberg says Scruff is sacrificing revenue in the short-term, but as a private, “queer-owned company,” they are empowered to make decisions that are in the best interests of their members, and are not beholden to investors, venture capitalists or public markets like other gay apps. “The benefit lies within the fact that Scruff now has 100 percent control of the advertisements it’s serving to its community. Scruff works exclusively with select advertising partners focused on the GBTQ community, including non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, health institutes, and travel and lifestyle brands."