NEWS website The Daily Beast has come under fire for a story it published which potentially outed a number of gay athletes at the Rio Olympics, many of whom come from countries which are homophobic or where homosexuality is illegal.

Journalist Nico Hines used a number of dating apps including Grindr to investigate rumours the Olympic Athlete’s Village was a “hotbed of partying athletes, hookups, and sex, sex, sex“.

Despite being a heterosexual, married father, Hines used Grindr to arrange dates with a number of male athletes to find out “how do the rest of us get an invite? Can an Average Joe join the bacchanalia?”

In his piece, Hines described a number of the gay athletes by physical appearance, the sport they compete in and the countries they are from – noting himself many are from homophobic countries.

Commentators argued Hines outed the athletes without their consent. The Daily Beast has since removed the identifying lines from the piece after social media users tore them to shreds for the story and potentially jeopardising the safety of many athletes.

“(The story) is a uniquely disgusting and irresponsible entry into the tired genre. Hines entices his (often closeted) subjects under false pretences; effectively outs several closeted athletes who live in repressive countries; then writes about the whole thing in a tone of mocking yet lurid condescension,” Mark Joseph Stern wrote for Slate.

Hines said he used his real photo on the dating apps and admitted to the people he met up with that he was a journalist if they asked who he was.

“The (journalists) code of ethics also clearly states: “Avoid undercover or surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public,” Matthew Rodriguez wrote in mic.com.

“Though Hines says he “confessed to being a journalist as soon as anyone asked who [he] was,” he never says he confessed to being a straight person who was ready to out athletes.

“Hines chose to use “surreptitious methods,” but delivered no vital information in this article. His piece doesn’t respect his subjects: It mocks gay people and treats them like zoo animals behind a glass barrier.”

John Avlon, The Daily Beast’s editor in chief issued a statement below Hines’ amended story saying the website took the complaints about the piece seriously and it was committed to promoting the rights of LGBTI people.

However, he argued Hines’ story did not sex-shame people for using Grindr.

“We do not feel he did this in any way. But it’s up to us to deliver stories that are so clear, they can’t be misinterpreted—and we clearly fell short of that standard in this article,” Avlon said in the statement.

Social media was on fire with people criticising the piece, but the best smack down came from Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua who is openly gay despite homosexuality being illegal in Tonga.

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