Hate ‘em or love ‘em, delete ‘em and re-download ’em: dating apps are here to stay. In the queer, predominantly male community, what was once a binary playing field has grown rather crowded with apps like Hinge, Chappy, Bumble, and Tinder vying for a piece of the MSM pie once dominated by Grindr and Scruff.
Those apps didn’t come to me randomly, I just looked down at my phone to the little folder I have them collected in, labeled “Dudes.” I used to have Jack’d in there, too, but that app and I had a falling out (for the umpteenth time) following a series of glitches, bugs, defects…simply put shit was broke. You can take a look at Jack’d’s reviews on Apple’s App Store to get a picture of what I mean.
“The app locks up and freezes every time I use it. Nothing works to fix it. I’ve tried uninstalling and reinstalling so many times I’ve lost count,” wrote user “MarcusDFW” in November 2018. “They used to update the app regularly but the last update was two months ago so apparently even the developers/owners have given up…and good luck getting a response from tech-support. I’ve sent five emails and have not heard a response to any of them.”
He added, “I would give this app a zero rating if I could….” That makes Jack’d’s whopping 1.5 rating, out of more than 4,300 reviews, seem kinda high.
The thing is, MarcusDFW used to love Jack’d, saying it was, at one point, “hands down the BEST gay dating app.” Like MarcusDFW, I and many others kept going back to Jack’d because—unlike Grindr, Scruff, et al.—Jack’d consisted of, and was targeted to, primarily men of color. When the passive, and occasionally active, racism of those other apps grew too wearisome, I could always go to Jack’d and be surrounded by other men who looked like me.
But after a series of updates, each seemingly worse than the other, the app became untenable. Aside from the glitches, Jack’d had a photo regulation policy, born more out of laziness than caution, which allowed users to self-regulate. If you saw a photo that violated their guidelines, you could report that profile, the photo would be automatically deleted, and the owner of the profile wouldn’t be allowed to upload any more photos for a short period—usually up to a few days, though some users reported up to a week.
As with nearly everything involving even the weakest exercise of power, this feature bred pure, unmitigated, rabid pettiness.
“Seems like anyone that gets upset with you can report a pic, and without Jack’d reviewing the pic, the pic is flagged and taken down,” CamKiddoh wrote in a review two years ago. “None of my pictures are nudes yet my shirtless pics from the waist up get reported. WHY!?”
“[Jack’d] keeps flagging and deleting pics and suspending my account for photos that definitely fall into their guidelines,” J-rod 84 reported back in March. “I’ve seen tons of pics on there waaayyy worse than mine that don’t seem to be an issue.”
Then, of course, there’s the little matter of a security loophole in the app that exposed the private pics of more than 1,900 members in 2018. Jack’d’s parent company, Online Buddies (owner of the relic Manhunt.net), knew about the flaw but took a year to fix it, putting profit over privacy. Next thing you know, Online Buddies is slapped with a lawsuit and they end up having to shell out $249,000 to New York State.
So much for those profits.
The general and obvious lack of care given to Jack’d, which hasn’t been updated in six months, can perhaps best be summed up by user iPriusPhred, in a review from last July: “This app must be run by a homophobe who thinks gay men are too used to being abused to notice more blatant abuse. Goodbye!!!”
Truly, having an app that caters to oft-underserved queer people of color fall into such wanton disrepair is nothing short of an insult, but also a pattern to which we’re accustomed.
However, there may be some hope for Jack’d, now that Scruff’s parent company, Perry Street Software, has swept in to save the day and/or pick at Jack’d’s rotting corpse.
“Perry Street will invest significant resources to upgrade the technology and reliability of the Jack’d app,” CEO Eric Silverberg said in a press release.
“This acquisition will provide Jack’d members with the same combination of technology and active moderation we have developed at SCRUFF, so that the Jack’d community members will be protected against harassment, spam bots, scammers, and risks while traveling.”
According to the New York-based software company:
In the coming months, Jack’d members can expect to see the removal of all programmatic advertising, enhanced controls over privacy and security, and new features such as improved messaging, redesigned Match, richer search, and the ability to include video as part of member private albums or in chat.
Doesn’t that sound lovely? An app that actually works…of all the concepts.
Calling Jack’d “one of the first and most diverse gay, bi, trans, and queer social networking and dating apps,” Perry Street assures users that Jack’d will continue to “operate as a stand-alone app to ensure that it remains a distinct and supportive space.”
Meaning, Jack’d won’t be whitewashed into a Scruff clone. Assumably in an effort to prevent that, Jack’d’s new daddy is opening up the renewal process to members: You can can volunteer to receive early previews of the updated app through the Jack’d beta program.
With Jack’d under its wing, Perry Street looks to become “the largest LGBTQ owned-and-operated software company by revenue and members reached.” Considering the controversies Grindr and its parent company have been experiencing, Perry Street has an opportunity to take the lead in an ever-growing, and crowded, market by doing well by Jack’d and its community of users.
So yeah…you know: