Discord shutters alt-right and Nazi servers, but they're not completely gone

It was noticed recently that a number of Discord servers including Atomwaffen Division, Nordic Resistance Movement, and Ironmarch, seemed to have disappeared, very suddenly and without notice. And it's true, although not without complications: Discord confirmed with Polygon that the servers were shut down for violating its terms of service, but some of them appear to have bounced back rather quickly. 

"Discord has a Terms of Service (ToS) and Community Guidelines that we ask all of our communities and users to adhere to. These specifically prohibit harassment, threatening messages, or calls to violence," a Discord rep told the site. "Though we do not read people’s private messages, we do investigate and take immediate appropriate action against any reported ToS violation by a server or user. There were a handful of servers that violated these ToS recently and were swiftly removed from the platform." 

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an extremist watchdog group, describes Atomwaffen Division as "a series of terror cells that work toward civilizational collapse," with members who believe that "violence, depravity and degeneracy are the only sure way to establish order in their dystopian and apocalyptic vision of the world." Nordic Resistance Movement, via Wikipedia, is a violent "pan-Nordic Neo-Nazi movement," while Ironmarch is a fascist social network, apparently where the Atomwaffen Division first took root. 

The reaction to the removal of the servers on Reddit appears to be mainly positive, but the reports of their deaths may be greatly exaggerated. The Right Server was listed by Polygon as one that had been removed, yet it's still online (although its main chat channels have been wiped as a precaution against journalists taking comments "completely out of context"), and Atomwaffen appears to be back as well.

A Discord rep confirmed that Atomwaffen was "definitely taken down," and said that it could be a "fake" server, using the name but without the same content and people. That's quite possible, but I have to wonder whether it makes any real difference in the long run. The server as it currently stands is top-heavy with memes, but racism, antisemitism, and Nazi imagery are hardly in short supply. And if the name persists—it's easy to find—then I have to assume that people who use it earnestly are eventually going to find and return to it as well.

All of this is important to us because, as we declared in 2016, Discord is simply the best VoIP option available to gamers: It's flexible, easy to use, supports private servers with multiple channels and voice chat, and it's totally free to use. Since its debut in 2015, Discord has built itself into must-have software for gamers, and it's good to see it taking action against organizations that threaten to damage that reputation, even if the results are imperfect. 

As to whether Discord is considering a more proactive approach to shuttering hate-based servers, however, or a change to its policies and procedures as a result of their proliferation, the rep said only that it will "continue to be aggressive to ensure that Discord exists for the community we set out to support—gamers."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.