Tech giants Samsung and Google have censored popular gay social networking apps in South Korea, where, as BuzzFeed explains, “LGBT activists are facing increasing attempts by government and conservative activists to silence them.” And that’s not the only country where this has happened.

BuzzFeed News reports:

Samsung, one of South Korea’s largest business conglomerates and the largest maker of smartphones worldwide, rejected an application from the gay hookup app Hornet to be listed in its app store in 2013.

In a memo sent from Samsung to Hornet’s CEO and shared with BuzzFeed News, Samsung said the app could not be listed because, “due to the local moral values or laws, content containing LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi sexual, Transgender) is not allowed” in places like the Middle East, parts of east and south Asia, and LGBT-friendly places like the U.S. and the Nordic countries.

Samsung spokesperson Kelly Yeo confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the company does limit LGBT content on a country-by-country basis, but said it now does so based on “local laws and customs” instead of “local moral values or laws” and that Samsung is “continuing to update our policies.”

Hornet CEO Sean Howell was able to get the program listed in Samsung’s app store in the U.S. and many other countries after a four-year process, though it is still blocked in a seemingly random set of countries, including Argentina — where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010 — Iceland, Syria, and South Korea.

Google Play removed the most popular gay dating app in South Korea, Jack’d, a few years ago, according to LGBT activists in Seoul. Google deleted the app apparently without notifying its developer. Jack’d’s lead account manager for Asia, Noah Staum, seemed surprised when asked about the delisting by BuzzFeed News, saying that Jack’d has more than 500,000 users in the country. They presumably are getting it by using a VPN that makes it appear as if their phone is in another country; instructions for doing this in Korean are easily found online.

Read the full article here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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