Skip to main content


“They’re All Honky Bros…”: Exploring Canadian Women of Color’s Experiences Using Geosocial Networking Applications

Amy Matharu, Eric Filice, Diana C. Parry & Corey W. Johnson (2023)

Digital-sexual racism is mediated through geosocial networking applications (GSNAs), also known as dating/hookup apps. Digital-sexual racism seeks to explain how access to multiple profiles, emphasis on self-presentation, and increased anonymity found on GSNAs results in racism and discrimination for people of color. Scholars have started to explore digital-sexual racism on GSNAs; however, Canadian women of color (WOC) have not been included in this exploration to date. Informed by a feminist lens, we conducted focus groups with 12 WOC from Ontario, Canada, to explore how the intersection of their race/ethnicity, gender, and geographic location influenced their experience and engagement with GSNAs. We summarized our results as follows: (1) forms of digital-sexual racism, (2) influence of geography, and (3) sexism from men of color and immigrant men. We argue that the intersection of race, gender, and geographic location affords a unique experience between WOC/non-WOC and within the broad WOC category as well.

Read the full paper

Algorithmic heteronormativity: Powers and pleasures of dating and hook-up apps

Diana C. Parry, Eric Filice & Corey W. Johnson (2023)

We propose the concept of algorithmic heteronormativity to describe the ways in which dating apps’ digital architectures are informed by and perpetuate normative sexual ideologies. Situating our intervention within digital affordance theories and grounding our analysis in walkthroughs of several popular dating apps’ (e.g., Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge) interfaces, promotional materials, and ancillary media, we identify four normative sexual ideologies—gendered desire, hetero and homonormativity, mononormativity, and shame—that manifest in specific features, including gender choice, compatibility surveys, and private chat. This work builds on earlier digital culture theorizing by explicitly articulating the reciprocal and gradational linkages between existing moral codes, digital infrastructures, and individual behaviors, which in the contemporary context work jointly to narrow the horizon of intimate possibility.

Read the full paper

Sexual violence and abuse in online dating: A scoping review

Eric Filice, Kavishka D. Abeywickrama, Diana C. Parry & Corey W. Johnson (2022)

Online dating websites and apps offer an array of conveniences that have captivated those looking to form new relationships. However, as these platforms have grown in popularity, companies have had to grapple with their potential to act as catalysts for sexual violence and abuse both on and offline. In light of increasing anecdotal, popular media, and law enforcement reports, there is growing academic interest in online dating as a specific avenue of technology-facilitated sexual violence, with its own potential contextual drivers and safeguards. Using a scoping review methodology, the authors map this emerging literature’s contours, characterize its theoretical, methodological, and empirical contents, and identify lacunae and opportunities for future research. Areas addressed in the current literature include the prevalence of digital sexual harassment and abuse, individual differences in victimization and perpetration, mechanisms by which online dating technologies facilitate or impede sexual violence, and responses from industry, policymakers, and the general public. Among other gaps, there is need for additional longitudinal and experimental research, qualitative analyses of online dating technologies’ digital architectures, and investigation into the psychological and social sequelae of online dating violence.

Read the full paper

Unicorns on the Digital Range: Bisexual Persons’ Experiences of Geo-Social Networking Application Use

Eric Filice, Corey W. Johnson & Diana C. Parry (2022)

Geo-social networking applications (GSNAs) like Tinder and Grindr are popular tools for connecting with people for romance, sex, and other purposes, particularly among sexual minorities. This paper draws on narrative interviews with 13 bisexual persons (5 cisgender men, 6 cisgender women, 2 trans/nonbinary persons) to explore their GSNA use, including motives and gratifications, relational dynamics, and implications for individual identities and cultural understandings of bisexuality. Participants presented complex and ambivalent accounts of their GSNA use, revealing a variety of relational aspirations and experiences. Whatever users’ goals, cultural meanings associated with bisexuality shaped online interactions in ways that impeded their fulfillment, with binegativity routinely preventing relationship formation in the first instance or precipitating relationship dissolution. Despite these challenges, bisexual persons regularly have successful digitally-mediated encounters which can reshape private and collective understandings of bisexuality. GSNAs expose users to new experiences and discourses that help them make sense of their erotic predilections, including partner sex/gender sexuality. They may also play a role in the broader sea change in attitudes toward bisexuality by facilitating the formation of mixed orientation relationships wherein stereotypes are gradually replaced by direct personal experience.

Read the full paper

Shades of digital deception: Self-presentation among men seeking men on locative dating apps

Eric Filice, Corey W. Johnson, Diana C. Parry & Harrison Oakes (2022)

In recent years, location-based real-time dating apps like Grindr and Tinder have assumed an increasingly pivotal role in brokering socio-sexual relations between men seeking men and have proven to be fertile ground for the study of identity negotiation and impression management. However, current research has given insufficient consideration to how various contextual elements of technology use interact with one another to shape self-presentation behaviour. Through analysis of interview data, we found impression construction on these apps reflects tensions between authentic depiction of the self-concept and self-enhancement via deception. Whether and the extent to which one engages in deception depends on how a number of technological affordances, platform-specific community norms and userbase characteristics interact with each other. Self-presentational choices were a result of a combination of deception facilitators, for example, belief in the normalcy of lying, and constraining determinants, for example, the expectation of brokering physical connection. Impression construction determinants also interact in ways where the influence of any one element is dependent on others. This was most plainly evidenced in the interactions between stigma management concerns, the affordances of audience visibility/control and locatability and common ground reinforcing social hierarchy.

Read the full paper

‘What’s my score?’: the complexities of straight male Geo-Social Networking Application use

Luc S. Cousineaun, Diana C. Parry & Corey W. Johnson (2020)

Millions of people around the world use Geo-Social Networking Applications (GSNAs) to connect with new people and potential sexual partners. Using data from a broad study of GSNA users, this paper explores GSNA use by straight men and the implications on their positionality, masculinity, and for their leisure. Straight men showed that although they speak out against traditional masculine norms in their offline lives, on GSNAs they enact and embrace hegemonic norms of dating. This dualistic (re)presentation demonstrates some of the complexities of how contemporary leisure spaces (like dating) become digitally mediated, but maintain deep human-to-human involvement and traditionalist social expectations.

Read the full paper

Building community, one swipe at a time: hook-up apps and the production of intimate publics between women

Jonathan Petrychyn, Diana C. Parry & Corey W. Johnson (2020)

Hook-up apps are an increasingly popular way for women to meet other people for sex, dating, relationships, and more. As a mundane and habitual form of media, the multiple uses of hook-up apps allow for the production of intimacy in surprising and complex ways. This paper draws on narrative interviews with 15 self-identifying women to explore how dating and hook-up apps help produce ‘intimate publics’ for women. The field of intimate publics available to women users of hook-up apps is broader than those afforded by in-app interactions; there is an entire network of intimacy, sociality, and publicity that forms around hook-up apps. Our findings show that while both queer and straight women use hook-up apps to find sex, hook-ups, dates, and relationships, they are also central to building community, friendship, and sociality between women.

Read the full paper

Traditions in (re)Negotiation: Geosocial Networking Apps and Intimate Relationships Among Men Seeking Men

Eric Filice, Diana C. Parry, Corey W. Johnson (2020)

Information and communication technologies have introduced profound changes to how individuals pursue sexual and romantic connections. One class of communication technologies that has become especially popular in recent times is that of geosocial networking apps, which characteristically use smartphones’ global positioning system technology to transmit and receive users’ location data. To date, however, most research investigating the impact of internet-mediated communication on socio-sexual relations has focused on more established systems like chatrooms, social networking sites, email, and instant messaging. The present study thematically analyzes interview data from gay, bisexual and queer men to explore how geosocial networking apps influence the development and organization of intimate

Read the full paper

The influence of Grindr, a geosocial networking application, on body image in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men: An exploratory study

Eric Filice, Amanda Raffoul, Samantha B. Meyer, & Elena Neiterman (2019)

Recent evidence indicates use of geosocial networking apps is associated with body image-related issues among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. The current study aims to elaborate upon these findings by investigating how Grindr, the most widely-used dating app among this population, impacts users’ body image and body satisfaction. Using an exploratory, qualitative study design, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 current and previous Grindr users and analyzed thematically.

Read the full paper