The Daily Beast removed a story from its site Thursday night after some readers complained it could have outed gay athletes at the Rio Games. The move, which the site said was "unprecedented," came hours after the editor-in-chief apologized for the story and a revised version was posted.
The story talked about how athletes use dating apps such as Bumble, Grindr, Jack’d, and Tinder to connect with people at the games. A reporter for the site said in the story that he got three dates in his first hour of trying and also detailed what some men wrote on their profiles on Grindr, a popular gay dating app.
Readers and social-media users quickly voiced concern that the details in the original version of the story could not only out gay athletes, but also potentially threaten their safety.
Those concerns, Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon wrote, were legitimate.
"This was never our reporter's intention, of course," Avlon wrote. "No names were ever used and some of the profiles described were of straight women. But there was a concern that even mentioning the home nation of some gay athletes could compromise their safety. We apologize for potentially jeopardizing that safety in any way. As a result, we have removed all descriptions of the men and women's profiles that we previously described."
The Society of Professional Journalists was quick to criticize the story as well.
"The athletes adversely affected by the story also deserve an apology," wrote Andrew Seaman, who chairs SPJ's ethics committee. "Such a story has no place in a modern media organization."
Late Thursday, the story was gone completely.
"Intent doesn't matter, impact does," the site wrote in a statement announcing the story's removal. "Our hope is that removing an article that is in conflict with both our values and what we aspire to as journalists will demonstrate how seriously we take our error."