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Wall Street Bets Discord server returns following ban

Discord icon.
(Image credit: Discord)

Update (9:30 pm Pacific): Not long after the ban, a new Wall Street Bets server appeared on Discord. Text chat privileges were kept to a small number of accounts for several hours, but it is now starting to open up—for the moment, mostly with people spamming stock symbols for Nokia and AMC, or telling the spammers to shut up.

Original story: Wall Street Bets, a meme-heavy community of investors who organize on Reddit, is in the midst of squeezing Wall Street speculators by buying up shares of GameStop like it's 1999. Some of the subreddit's subscribers have also been chatting on Discord, but the chatroom host closed the group's server earlier today. According to Discord, the closure was due to "hate speech, glorifying violence, and spreading misinformation."

The Verge says it joined the Wall Street Bets Discord server while it was still active, and did find users "spamming hateful language, including racial slurs." In a statement sent to the publication, Discord said:

The server has been on our Trust & Safety team’s radar for some time due to occasional content that violates our Community Guidelines, including hate speech, glorifying violence, and spreading misinformation. Over the past few months, we have issued multiple warnings to the server admin.

Today, we decided to remove the server and its owner from Discord for continuing to allow hateful and discriminatory content after repeated warnings.

To be clear, we did not ban this server due to financial fraud related to GameStop or other stocks. Discord welcomes a broad variety of personal finance discussions, from investment clubs and day traders to college students and professional financial advisors. We are monitoring this situation and in the event there are allegations of illegal activities, we will cooperate with authorities as appropriate.

The ban's timing at the height of the group's popular 'screw you' to Wall Street has led to suspicion among some observers that the private chat company was pressured by someone to disrupt its investment activities (or perhaps decided to do so on its own accord). At the moment, we don't have evidence of any such pressure. 

The move is in line with Discord's moderation policies, and a more mundane explanation is that the company was motivated by the use of slurs observed by The Verge, especially as the server was likely drawing in a large number of new users excited by the week's news.

A few years ago, Discord was criticized in multiple reports when it was found that hate groups were organizing on the platform. "In the course of an afternoon, I found and joined more than 20 communities on the platform that were either directly about Nazism or white supremacy or reveled in sharing anti-Semitic and racist memes and imagery," wrote Slate in 2018. Discord shut those servers down, and made it clear that it would continue to shut down servers reported for similar behavior.

I spoke to Discord about the topic in 2019, and while the company's Trust and Safety team does not actively monitor every small or private server (practically impossible on a platform of its size), it does respond to reports of hate speech and other TOS violations, especially when they come from big public servers.

On the Wall Street Bets subreddit—which was briefly locked this afternoon and then unlocked—users often refer to themselves with derogatory terms. 

For an explanation of what this is all about in the first place, earlier today Andy summarized the GameStop stock situation as it presently stands.

Tyler has spent over 1,000 hours playing Rocket League, and slightly fewer nitpicking the PC Gamer style guide. His primary news beat is game stores: Steam, Epic, and whatever launcher squeezes into our taskbars next.