Platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube are household names around the world, but how many marketers, communications professionals, and journalists are familiar with Discord? The social media landscape is vast and the rise of misinformation and disinformation mandates that brands and newsrooms track and analyze the flow of information on less mainstream platforms and forums, such as 4chan, Gab, Voat and Discord.
Who Uses Discord?
The Discord app, often written off as “that app gamers use” now has more than 250 million registered users, up from 130 million a year ago. For comparison, Snapchat has 190 million users while Twitter has 321 million.
The app was created in 2015, but gained its following as Fortnight and other multiplayer online games gained popularity.
How Does Discord Work?
Discord is a free voice, text and video chatting platform with invite-only chat rooms referred to as ‘servers.” Think of it as a Slack-Skype hybrid. Within each server, which can be private or public, a group can set up discussion channels. A server can have two people or thousands of people, with each chat room not discoverable without an invite.
Discussion topics on Discord vary from colleges to birds, but Discord’s private chat nature, which enables hate and violence to go undetected, has made it a hub for communities of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Its privacy features have made it an easy place to organize everything from a gaming session with friends to doxing and harassment campaigns.
Discord and QAnon
In the days following Reddit’s September 2018 ban of a bustling group devoted to the QAnon conspiracy theory, regular participants regrouped on Discord and fringe platforms like Voat and 8chan.
Storyful journalists saw that a forum user going by the user name “Breadbox” posted in a Discord channel called “QCA Backup” – for Qanon Clearance Archive, which archived all the Qanon posts – directing conspiracists to move to Voat, an alternative version of Reddit with what is theoretically a more lax view regarding the subject of online speech.
Discord and Charlottesville
While initially created for video gaming communities to communicate in invite-only chat rooms, Discord has been overrun by the alt-right. It was revealed that white supremacists used Discord to plan the deadly Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville.
According to Slate, Discord purged a number of accounts associated with the alt-right and the organizers of Unite the Right. “Discord’s mission is to bring people together around gaming,” the company stated after the march turned deadly. “We’re about positivity and inclusivity. Not hate. Not violence.”
Whether you’re harnessing insights to better understand consumer challenges across industries, or tracking the source of a harmful threat to your brand or to society, understanding Discord is a critical part of understanding the social landscape.
A look inside the conversations people engage in on more obscure platforms provides insight into the behaviors, attitudes and feelings that influence culture, politics and world economies, for better or for worse. Learn how information flows from Discord to the mainstream.