DISTURBING

The Gaming Site Discord Is the New Front of Revenge Porn

On the Discord messaging platform, users are openly trading their swiped images of women, and one activist says entire chat rooms are dedicated to videos of rapes.

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Discord is used by millions of gamers every day to chat, relax, and coordinate while playing their game of choice. But this multimillion-dollar messaging platform has another ballooning user base: revenge-porn offenders.

The Daily Beast has found hundreds of images, almost all of women, and many apparently shared without consent across a spread of Discord servers. Many of the Discord users originate from infamous revenge-porn site Anon-IB, and have set up these chatrooms with the deliberate intent of more easily sharing and finding new images.

“All Discord does is remove the users. They just make new ones,” Mia Landsem, a professional taekwondo athlete and activist who infiltrates the offending Discord communities, told The Daily Beast. Landsem also shared screenshots indicating that other Discord servers are focused specifically on spreading videos of rape and serious abuse.

Discord melds various ways to chat together—users can use voice to talk in a conference-call style; type and upload pictures or videos into different channels within a server, so multiple people can see them; or directly message particular users, too. It’s a mix of Skype, Slack, and gaming-chat services like TeamSpeak all in one. Users typically join a Discord server by clicking on an invite link, and can then use the service in their browser, or via desktop and mobile apps.

This appears to be how some revenge-porn offenders are moving over to Discord. On Anon-IB, which was intertwined with the nude-celebrity leaks of 2014, posters are now sharing links to dedicated Discord servers.

“Discord is where it’s at,” one Anon-IB user wrote on the site recently.

Although Discord’s terms of use ban the spread or promotion of revenge porn, The Daily Beast quickly accessed just under 10 rooms sharing a mix of images of women lifted from social media and other websites, as well as a wealth of apparently non-consensually shared, explicit images. Some of these servers dated back months, providing chat logs and images stretching into 2017, and concern the U.S., Canada, several areas of the U.K., South Africa, and Australia. Other servers, which The Daily Beast did not access, appear to be focused on other European countries, such as Norway and Denmark.

More granular chat rooms on the Discord server then specify a particular region or perhaps university. Some are even dedicated to specific, named women, with multiple users tracking down whatever images they can, with some indications that the offenders know the victims in real life.

A few server administrators apparently look down on the practice of trading, and instead demand users dump whatever they may have in the shared chat room. After accessing various Discord servers, other users quickly messaged The Daily Beast asking for nude images.

It also appears some Discord users may be hacking their way to access explicit photos of victims. In December, one user in a U.K.-focused server asked for help phishing, or stealing targets’ passwords. Another claimed they had obtained photos from a 19-year-old’s laptop when she connected to a WiFi network the user controlled, and a third offered to do lookups on “WeLeakInfo,” a website for searching through database breaches. (WeLeakInfo told The Daily Beast “We are aware of increasing abuse on our platform and we are working on [a] way to decrease that.”)

But beyond revenge porn, Discord is apparently facilitating more extreme chat rooms that are specifically set up to trade videos of rape.

One server has sections dedicated to “real rape, real daterape, real drugged chicks for rape, videos of real rape, real forced girlfriend, Abused girlfriends,” according to screenshots Landsem, the activist, shared with The Daily Beast.“ONLY PICS/VIDEOS WITH REAL RAPE, DEGRADING, ABUSE, BDSM WILL BE ACCEPTED,” another of the screenshots laying out the server rules reads. Other servers are dubbed DC—or Degrade C--ts—and JB, otherwise known as jailbait, according to a third screenshot. Jailbait refers to people for whom it is not immediately clear if they are of legal age or not. Gizmodo previously reported on Discord’s child-abuse imagery problem.

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With a few of the revenge-porn and rape servers, users are required to share explicit images or videos to gain access to other channels. This is how Landsem is able to infiltrate various Discord groups: pretending to be a 26-year-old male, she has a set of images, including some photoshopped pictures, with permission to share them.

“I manipulate them [Discord users] to believe I am a boy,” Landsem said. From there, she tries to identify victims, and says she has successfully done so.

“It’s 50/50 girls that already are aware and some who are not,” she added. Landsem says she has also sent information to law-enforcement, authorities but they were unable to provide assistance.

Indeed, combating revenge porn is a pervasive problem for law enforcement, legislators, and Silicon Valley. In November, senators introduced a bill designed to tackle the practice, and social-media companies have launched technical measures to try to limit the spread of offending material. Facebook allows users to flag images as revenge porn, and the company also recently launched a pilot program in Australia, where potential revenge-porn victims can upload images before any abuse—meaning Facebook’s systems can block them before they’ve been pasted on the site in the first place. This week, Facebook reached a settlement with a Northern Ireland teenager whose images were shared on the social network.

It is not clear what similar measures Discord has in place to mitigate the spread of specific revenge-porn images, but it does allow users to report non-consensually shared pornography, according to a post on the official Discord subreddit. The Daily Beast encountered several identical sets of images uploaded one after another, and Discord, startlingly, did not respond to a request for comment.

As Landsem alluded to, Discord is attempting to deal with revenge porn, however. Discord does shut down some revenge-porn servers and bans users, something that Anon-IB and Discord users complain about in posts. But clearly, it is not enough, as Discord is quickly becoming a go-to platform for revenge porn and rape material.

“Who we got to trade then boys,” one Discord user wrote in a revenge-porn focused server last week.

“I will be on until 2pm, you can send me wins for access,” an apparent administrator of a room focused on Long Island wrote last week.