Popular group-chat app Discord deleted 2,000-plus servers dedicated to extremism and violent content in the second half of 2020, including more than 300 QAnon communities.
According to its latest half-yearly transparency report, released on Monday, Discord banned a total of 2,212 servers dedicated to extremist content between July and December of 2020. This marks a nearly 93% increase in accounts banned for extremist content compared to the first half of 2020.
The company cites “the expansion of our anti-extremism efforts as well as growing trends in the online extremism space” as a reason for the sharp increase.
1,504 of the 2,212 servers were removed proactively by the company’s Trust & Safety team, while the remaining 708 communities were banned after being reported by users.
“We continue to believe there is no place on Discord for groups organising around hate, violence, or extremist ideologies,” the company said in the report, noting that 334 servers on the platform had QAnon connections.
Additionally, 30,022 individual users had their accounts deleted from the platform for sharing violent or extremist content in the latter half of the year, according to the report.
Although any efforts to minimise the reach of violent hate speech and extremist content is welcomed, it’s important to note that the push comes after the platform was used to organise extremist activities on more than one occasion, even being called a “safe space for white supremacists.”
Most notably, Discord was used heavily by those who planned the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville back in 2017. This tragic event was the main catalyst for the platform introducing stricter moderation policies.
“We unequivocally condemn white supremacy, neo-Nazism, or any other group, term, ideology that is based on these beliefs,” Eros Resmini, Discord’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement announcing the bans back in 2017. “They are not welcome on Discord.”
However, it’s also worth noting that years after the Unite the Right incident, Discord was again used by those involved in the January 6 Capitol siege, seemingly illustrating that the platform still has a long way to go when it comes to eradicating extremist content.
Although the Capitol rioters used a variety of different social media platforms — which means Discord isn’t entirely to blame — Unicorn Riot reports that 18 different Discord servers were used by those who took part in the act of domestic terrorism.
The strong focus on stamping out extremist content comes at a crucial time for Discord, with Microsoft reportedly in talks to buy the platform for a staggering $US10 billion ($13.14 billion). A deal is expected to be finalised as early as the end of the month.
Overall, the company deleted nearly 30,000 servers for various types of service violations including cyber crimes, exploitative content (such as revenge porn and child porn) and spam.
You can read the full transparency report here.