Gaming chat client Discord has banned servers and several users linked to white supremacist and Nazi ideologies, according to a tweet sent out from the official Discord account. “Discord’s mission is to bring people together around gaming,” their statement on Twitter read. “We will continue to take action against white supremacy, nazi ideology, and all forms of hate.”
Saturday’s Charlottesville rally to retain a statue of Robert E. Lee drew participants from alt-right, Nazi, white supremacist and KKK groups. Violence broke out when pro-Confederacy protesters clashed with counter-protesters. Following the rally, which resulted in the death of a counter-protester attacked by a car, a member of the Daily Stormer Discord, a group associated with the white supremacist movement, allegedly offered to “bring weapons” to the victim’s funeral. Journalist Laura Loomer reported the message to Discord via Twitter, spurring Discord to conduct an investigation which apparently resulted in them shutting down servers relating to Daily Stormer and Altright.com, another website associated with white supremacists and neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer. Discord also ceased service for “a number of accounts associated with the events in Charlottesville.”
In subsequent tweets, Discord added that while they don’t read users’ private conversations, they will swiftly take action when people violate their Terms of Service (Discord’s ToS prohibits threatening or abusing anyone).
Altright.com swiftly posted a response, referring to Discord’s employees as “pathetic nerd cucks” who, in their actions, “joined the war against free speech.” They added, “The Globo-Corpo-Homo-Judeo establishment is coming at us from all angles and lobbing everything that they have our way. . .Boy, oh boy. They sure picked the wrong enemy. History has shown us that regions of disenfranchised, intelligent and motivated young men are very very good at resisting tyranny.”
Neither Discord nor Altright.com representatives have responded to Kotaku’s requests for comment. Altright.com’s Twitter has also been suspended, and Discord’s actions today contribute to a galvanizing push for platforms to hold users accountable for harmful behavior organized through their services.
[Update—4:55 pm]: Discord sent Kotaku their official statement from CMO Eros Resmini: “We unequivocally condemn white supremacy, neonazism, or any other group, term, ideology that is based on these beliefs. They are not welcome on Discord. While we don’t read people’s private servers our Terms of Service explicitly forbid harassment, threatening messages, or calls to violence. . . The public server linked to AltRight.com that violated those terms was shut down along with several other public groups and accounts fostering bad actors on Discord. We will continue to be aggressive to ensure that Discord exists for the community we set out to support - gamers.”
[Update—8/15/2017, 10:35 am]: Altright.com has commented: “We are fully dedicated to the American tradition of Free Speech - and this includes controversial speech. It is a shame that Discord does not share this belief. People in our movement will simply find other alternatives in order to express their views.”