Discord drops the hammer on data-scraping 'Spy.pet' website, says it is 'considering appropriate legal action'

BRAZIL - 2021/05/21: In this illustration the homepage of the Discord website is displayed on the computer screen. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A week after a report revealed a site called Spy.pet that claimed to have scraped billions of public messages posted to Discord and was offering them for sale, Discord has banned multiple accounts connected to the site, which has now gone offline.

Discord said when Spy.pet was first reported that it was "investigating the matter," adding that "if we determine that violations of our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines have occurred, we will take appropriate steps to enforce our policies." And so it has: A new 404 Media report says Spy.pet was at one point scraping as many as 14,000 Discord servers, but that number had trailed down to 0 by April 25. The site itself is now offline.

"Our Safety team has been diligently investigating this activity, and we identified certain accounts that we believe are affiliated with the Spy.pet website, which we have subsequently banned," a Discord rep told 404 Media.

"Based on our investigation, these accounts accessed Discord servers that were open and available for anyone to join or where the accounts had easy access to a valid invite link. Once in these spaces, these accounts could only access the same information as any other user in those servers."

A Spy.pet administrator acknowledged that Discord had banned at least some of its bots, but said the server counter on the website had zeroed out because of a rewrite to Spy.pet's code. They also said the disappearance of the website was unrelated to Discord's actions, and denied that Spy.pet was meant as a "tool to be used for harassment," despite reportedly offering the scraped content to Kiwi Farms, a site known for stalking, doxxing, and harassment.

Even if Discord hadn't taken action against Spy.pet, it seems unlikely it would've lasted for long. As StackDiary pointed out when it was first reported, Spy.pet's actions were likely a violation of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), while collecting and selling data from minors would presumably be a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the US.

It's possible Spy.pet could return in some form. A message posted on Telegram after the website was suspended said, "I'll be setting up the backup domain and starting to talk to the registrar in ~5h." But regardless of whether it comes back in some form, there may be further trouble ahead. Discord told 404 Media that "in addition to banning the affiliated accounts, we are considering appropriate legal action."

The report says Discord has been aware of Spy.pet since at least February, but messages on the Telegram account go back to October 2023, beginning with "We are up." A Discord spokesperson told PC Gamer that while it was aware of the reports in February, it did not have enough information to take action until now.

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.