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Discord banned more than 4 million accounts this year, mostly for spam

(Image credit: Discord)

Discord has released a new transparency report that details the complaints regarding and action taken against spammers, harassers, servers that break community guidelines and criminal activity over the first six months of 2020. Not surprisingly, this year has seen a spike thanks to so many people stuck at home, leading to the company receiving double the number of reports that it got in the second half of 2019. 

Around 235,000 reports were sent to Discord's Trust & Safety team, ranging from cybercrime to harassment. The latter is the largest category, making up 86,048 of the reports, but according to Discord it's also the hardest one to take action against.

"We get some reports of malicious ban evading and flooding of friend requests, which generally are actionable," Discord says, "but a lot more of someone calling someone else names, or even filing a report under harassment and simply stating that they don’t like the other person or what they say, which is not actionable by Trust & Safety and is more appropriately addressed by the complainant blocking a user they don’t like."

Spam, meanwhile, appears to be the most actionable issue, with 65.72 percent of reports leading to some kind of action, compared to 13.26 percent of harassment reports. Spammers have also been banned more than anyone else, with 4,083,444 spam account banned between January and June—so most of them have been given the boot without users sending reports. 

Exploitative content is the next highest reason for bans, despite making up only up eight percent of complaints. Discord says that's because it goes out and looks for exploitative content to remove, which includes servers involved in child exploitation and non-consensual pornography. It's also been deleting servers that are being used to disrupt peaceful protests.

"We’re very proud to have shut down some of the worst-of-the-worst organizing groups before they could cause harm," Discord says. "In terms of hard numbers, as the first half of 2020 got underway, the ratio of proactive to reactive extremist servers removed climbed as high as 5:1."

Discord was something of a haven for white supremacists and alt-right troublemakers in the past, and they still use it now, but as it's grown into this massive, mainstream platform it's faced more scrutiny and started to clean up its act. 

"We have a responsibility to ensure that Discord is not used for hate, violence, or harm," Discord said in June in a blog post on racial equality. "Our goal is that Discord is used to build meaningful relationships and strong affirming communities."

It wasn't until the violence in Charlottesville that Discord really started cracking down, however, after the murder of Heather Heyer. Before that, white supremacists had used the platform to organise and recruit in preparation for the Unite the Right rally. 

Discord says it's working on a number of projects that will "make Discord safer," including stuff that should reduce spam, making reporting easier and assist moderators. They'll be announced over the next few months. It's also planning to publish a transparency report every six months, with the next one appearing in January. 

Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.