Discord messaging platform excludes 30,000 accounts for extremist content

The messaging platform Discord excluded more than 30,000 accounts and 2,000 servers linked to extremist or violent content in the second half of 2020, according to its semi-annual transparency report released last Friday (2).

Originally designed for fans of online games, the tool began to bring groups together to discuss various topics, including work-related issues, when the coronavirus pandemic prompted people to migrate their daily lives to the world. virtual.

As a result, Discord saw a 40% growth in user numbers between June and December 2020 and reached a total of 140 million people – which also caught the attention of big tech companies, such as Microsoft, which is negotiating to buy the tool for more than $ 10 billion (56.4 billion reais), according to Bloomberg published in late March.

The expansion of users, however, has also led to more reports of violations of its guidelines – complaints increased by 50% in the second half of last year, compared to the previous six months, with no significant change in parameters. The categories went from 11 to 14, but the 3 new ones are a dismemberment of those which already existed.

Extremist or violent content is included in these new categories, along with child sexual abuse material and concerns about self-harm. It is noted in the report that extremism only accounts for 1.4% of the 355,633 user complaints, but this equates to 11.3% of deleted accounts (except for spam) and 8.1% of excluded servers. .

In the second half of last year, Discord deleted 266,075 accounts (excluding those classified as spam, which totaled 3.26 million exclusions) and 27,410 servers.

The platform explains that, based on the complaints, it determines something after confirming the violation of its guidelines. This includes warning or deleting the server, temporary account ban, deletion of content or other measures. In the case of allegations of extremism, 38.4% of the complaints led to the adoption of one of these actions.

Discord highlights proactive action against militarized movements, specifically citing the Boogaloo Boys, the American far-right movement, and QAnon, a conspiracy theory that the US government is run by a sect of pedophiles that the former president Donald Trump tried to destroy. The group has previously been the subject of a Facebook ban and a Twitter suspension.

On its own initiative, the platform decommissioned 1,504 servers, 93% more than what was recorded in the first six months of the year. The report says this increase may be linked to his efforts as well as growing trends in extremism online. The investigation also points out that one of them was the expansion of QAnon, which had cut 334 servers.

The platform also provided data on actions taken against other forms of violation of its guidelines. Harassment remains the main reason for user complaints, accounting for 37.3% of the total. Next comes the cybercrime category, which corresponds to 12% of complaints, but which has seen a 250% jump compared to the first half of 2020.

While responsible for most complaints, the harassment category ranks second for the number of excluded accounts (except spam) and third for the number of servers deleted, with a share of 12.6 % of total in both cases.

Among the deleted accounts, the exclusion of exploratory content comes first and represents 48.6% of the total. Among servers, the cybercrime category leads the way, with a share of 21.4%, followed by exploratory content, 18.6%.

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