Pentagon leaks: Behind the veil of the Discord platform that exposed US secrets | Science and technology news


The leak of US intelligence documents that have revealed highly classified information about the war in Ukraine reportedly began on a gaming platform.

The documents they left behind Pentagon Responses were shared on a number of social media sites and are believed to have come from a private group on Discord. Members claim they should never be made public.

Jack Teixeiraa 21-year-old member of the US Air National Guard, was arrested over the leaks.

But what is Discord, who are its users and does it have ties to the far right?

Just another gaming app?

Discord started in 2015 as an online gamer meeting place and social tool. It grew during the COVID pandemic into a forum for its mostly 18-24 year old users to gossip or even help each other with their homework.

Players can create or join both public and private “servers” where people can meet and hang out and chat via text, video or voice.

Private “invitation only” servers can also be created. Each server can be divided into channels for specific topics.

More than 150 million people visit Discord every month, according to co-founder and CEO Jason Citron.

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Moment suspect in US document leaks arrested

The company hosts 21,000 servers, the vast majority of which are dedicated to gaming, while others focus on themes like entertainment and music.

Who Uses Discord?

Psychologist and director of the International Gaming Research Unit, Mark Griffiths, says that Discord originally started with discussions about gaming strategy, but has since evolved.

“Gamers, especially young male gamers, could go online to find an audience that will actually listen to them. The people in these groups — their core identity is gaming — because of the amount of time they spend doing it,” he said.

Discord is most popular among males aged 18-24.

Around 38% of web users and almost half of Android app users are from Generation Z and around 75% are male, according to digital intelligence platform Similarweb.

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Who is Jack Teixeira?

What do the documents say and how did they get out?

It is a “completely anonymous” and “very male platform,” said behavioral technologist and psychotherapist Catherine Knipps.

She said: “You can easily come up with a random username and give a false identity. As humans we are always looking for connections.”

She adds that a sense of belonging is “so important” and “people are taking on new personalities online to fit into their communities.”

Jack Teixeira
Jack Teixeira arrested over Pentagon leaks

Who is OG and what is Thug Shaker Central?

It is believed that some of the leaks started on Discord.

About two dozen users in a supposedly private chat group called Thug Shaker Central talked about their favorite guns and shared memes and jokes – some of which were racist. The group also discussed wars, including Russia’s invasion Ukraine.

Teixeira, who went by the moniker OG, reportedly drew the admiration of the group’s mostly young members. He has been identified by The New York Times as a leading figure in the chat group.

“Documents should never leave the company”

In interviews with the newspaper, members of the group said it began as a place where young men would gather to talk about their love of guns and play war-themed video games.

They claimed the secret documents they discussed were purely informational and should never have left the group.

They also said they considered Teixeira to be the unofficial leader of the group and claimed he wanted to educate younger members about the realities of the war.

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However, the documents gained more attention after one of the members posted them on a public forum.

In a statement from the company, Discord said it is working with law enforcement and “as this remains an active investigation, we are unable to comment further at this time.”

How were the documents leaked and where did they go?

According to the New York Times, Teixeira began releasing original documents in October through March, with one member of the group claiming the aviator released around 350 documents.

The newspaper reports that on March 2, a member of the private group “Lucca” took part in a conversation about the Ukraine war in a public Discord group and published several dozen documents there.

According to investigative website Bellingcat, the documents began circulating on April 5 through pro-Russian Telegram channels and on 4chan.

Connections to right-wing extremists?

This isn’t the first time Discord has been embroiled in controversy.

In 2017, white supremacists used the platform to plan the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, where a counter-protester was killed.

After the rally, Discord shut down a number of accounts related to the events in Charlottesville and said it would “continue to take action” against white supremacy and all forms of hate.

Then, in May 2022, a white teenager posted racist memes and recorded his thoughts on Discord before shooting 10 people in a Buffalo grocery store.

The details, kept in a private group, included months of racist, anti-Semitic posts as well as step-by-step descriptions of the teen’s attack plans. Discord said 15 users had access to posts prior to the attack. There was no evidence anyone had seen them before.

The platform said it removed the details and suspended the teenager’s account as soon as it became aware. The company said it has also taken steps to prevent the distribution of content related to the attack.

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