Discord has become a go-to app for interacting with fellow players using voice, video, text, or a mix of all three. It’s never been easier to discuss Counter Strike strategies or coordinate Apex Legends attack on another squad – which may be why over 130 million people have joined this (Voice Over IP) VOIP service.
But are there any less known privacy issues that Discord users need to know? After all, it would come as a surprise if the Discord owners miss the chance to profit from such a massive community. And could it be that your rivals are listening to your Discord chats?
This article will give you all that you need to know about staying private when using Discord and having no fear when linking up with other players.
Have there been any Discord privacy issues that you should worry about?
Since 2015 when Discord was founded, a few stories have emerged about privacy that users should be aware of. They probably won’t stop you from using Discord to play your favorite games online, but they may encourage you to keep your chats more private.
In late 2017, as Discord’s user base reached 100 million, the gaming press was suddenly filled with talk about the platform’s security issues.
1. Things for ROBLOX players to worry about
For example, some security experts noted that the Discord API could be used to create apps that harvest user data of ROBLOX, a popular title on Discord at the time, players. By inserting the so-called webhooks, cybercriminals could “fish” out ROBLOX sign-in codes and use them to extract in-game currency.
While specifically tied to ROBLOX, such a method could be used for wider malware attacks across other Discord servers – raising the potential for more severe security scandals.
2. Confusion about permissions
Another controversy was related to the way Discord detects what games users have installed. Discord app can deliver tailored chat suggestions based around the games you play, instead of forcing users to search for their own discussions. In that sense, it’s hard to pick fault.
However, users found the method by which Discord investigates their computers rather invasive. It turned out that while running, the app can see everything that’s happening on the user’s system. This shocked many privacy-conscious users of the platform.
Luckily, this isn’t proof that Discord compares to an NSA-style surveillance solution. If we look at the Discord privacy settings, users can easily grant or revoke such and other permissions.
3. Unmasking far-right Discord users
In 2018, law enforcement wanted to use evidence from Discord chat rooms against one of the organizers of the “Unite the Right” protests in Charlotteville, 2017, which left a protester dead.
It turned out that neo-Nazis had been using Discord as an organizing hub for their activities. Discord representatives denied knowing anything about that. Afterward, a legal tug of war ensued to determine if anonymous Discord users could be identified.
In August 2018, a judge ruled that the identification of users and their discussions was admissible, potentially compromising future private chats – regardless of whether far-right figures are involved.
4. Could it be that Discord is a piece of spyware?
Some of Discord’s privacy concerns relate to the way they collect and use data. According to the Spyware Watchdog, the threat level, in this case, is “extremely high” because everything that users say or write passes through the company’s servers.
Additionally, Discord is known to collect data, and as a mainstream corporation, will probably want to monetize and sell for maximum profit. It’s also not much known about the source code used in Discord apps.
- Discord routinely collects the following information: “username, email address, and any messages, images, transient VOIP data (to enable communication delivery only) or other content you send via the chat feature.”
- Whenever you use Discord, your IP address and activity are logged from start to finish.
- Aggregated data is regularly sold on to third parties or used internally for “research” purposes.
- Discord collects information about your contacts if you link social media accounts.
Managing your Discord privacy settings
The first step is getting your Discord settings right.
To do so, head to the Privacy Settings menu – you’ll find it by clicking the down arrow located next to the name of your current server.
This will allow you to manage things like friend requests and blocks. But what it won’t do is ensure minimal data collection, including keeping your messages private.
This is why we recommend that Discord users install a high-quality Virtual Private Network (VPN) and use them together. A VPN will anonymize your identity while you’re logged on and will also encrypt your traffic. It won’t stop Discord from reading what you write or hearing what you say, but it will make it extremely hard to link anything to your real identity.
Also, VPNs can work around IP bans, which Discord uses to shun those who do not follow its T&Cs. And they are great for getting around Discord blocks, allowing to use the service at schools or libraries where it may otherwise be restricted.
Stay safe and enjoy the best gaming experience
Discord privacy certainly isn’t perfect, but the service remains an essential tool for millions of gamers around the globe. Gaming is better when it involves friend groups and socializing, and that’s what Discord enables.
But there’s no reason to risk your privacy more than you need to. So definitely source a good VPN and change your Discord privacy settings. That way, you can chat safely and still get together with your fellow players, despite very real Discord privacy concerns.