The gay dating phone app Scruff has updated its profile photo policies to ban kissing, hugging or “facial expressions related to sexual acts.”
“Profile photo guidelines are changing,” an alert on the app said Wednesday. “To comply with platform policies, photos in underwear, jockstraps or bikini style bathing suits are no longer permitted in profile photos.”
The update will affect public profile photos so that pictures with the crotch area outlined will not be allowed. No hinting at dick.
In a section of the guidelines titled “SEXUAL,” the new policies read, “No photos of kissing, hugging or facial expressions related to sexual acts.”
Users shared screenshots of the alert on Twitter almost immediately.
“Craigslist. Backpage. Tumblr. Now even @ScruffApp, a gay dating app you have to be of consenting age to use, is censoring how users can post photos,” Amp Somers, host of a gay sex education YouTube channel, wrote with his screenshot.
In the tweet, Somers hashtagged SESTA and FOSTA, laws intended to crack down on internet sex trafficking. The bills make online publishers legally responsible for their users posting ads for prostitution — including consensual sex work — on their platforms.
Tumblr responded by removing all adult content from its site on Dec. 17, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Facebook also revised its community guidelines, banning any adult material when it is reported.
The Scruff update alert was sent out Wednesday after the company had been contacted by app store distributors with a warning earlier this month, Scruff CEO Eric Silverberg told Out. Before, certain photos in underwear and jockstraps were allowed on the app.
“Our policy is not related to FOSTA/SESTA [and] our change is meant to align our content standards with the evolving content standards of our app store distributors,” Silverberg said.
Silverberg went on to say that Scruff profiles represent one individual (or couples), and the public profile image should give an indication of, or information about, the person behind the profile.
Likewise, “general, public profile photos that specifically depict kissing, hugging or sexualized facial expressions aren't going to achieve that goal as well as a face pic or body pic,” Silverberg explained.
“To be clear, we also do not require a public profile photo, and many members (especially those who are not out) choose to share photos directly in private chat,“ Silverberg said.