Discord boss ‘appalled’ by reports of child abuse and kidnapping on platform | Science and technology news


The exploitation of children on the popular chat platform Discord is “terrible,” said the company’s CEO.

Jason Citron said any cases of child sexual abuse, sexual harassment or kidnapping related to the service he founded in 2015 are taken “very seriously”.

“As a parent, it’s horrible,” he said at Bloomberg’s Tech Summit in San Francisco.

Mr Citron said Discord has employed a dedicated child safety team whose job it is to prevent abuse “in a way that respects the privacy of all people who aren’t doing these things”.

Discord founder Jason Citron

He answered that an investigation of Sky News’ partner network, NBC Newswhich exposed dozens of child abuse prosecutions in the US involving communications on the platform.

There were at least 35 criminal cases for child abduction, sexual molestation or exploitation of children and 165 for material abuse. In one case, a man kidnapped a 12-year-old girl after meeting her in a video game on Discord, while in another, a teenage girl was kidnapped across state lines and raped after months of nurturing.

NBC News also identified hundreds of active Discord servers, which are the communities that make up the platform and encourage child exploitation.

What is Discord?

Many gamers use Discord to communicate when playing online.

Its popularity exploded during the pandemic and it now hosts many non-gaming servers, whether for chatting among friends or official sources for posting news. The British Treasury even opened its own server last yearwhere Government and Chancellor Notices are published.

Discord servers can be public, but many require people to be added or a request to join must be approved. They support voice and video calls, text messaging, live streaming, and file sharing.

But unlike messaging platforms such as Whatsapp and Signal does not offer Discord end-to-end encryption, while moderation is largely left to individual server owners and volunteers.

Discord said in a recent blog post that its security team “uses cutting-edge technology to detect and respond to abuse, both proactively and based on reports received from users, moderators, and trusted outside reporters.”

It added that in the last quarter of 2022, more than 37,000 accounts were suspended for child safety violations.

CEO Citron said at the Bloomberg event that the challenges are industry-wide, adding, “So many things are happening on the platform at scale and it’s so hard to sort of identify them.”

He suggested that AI could be used to solve problems related to child exploitation.

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