Discord has banned the primary Discord server for the subreddit, Wall Street Bets, amid the ongoing mess surrounding GameStop stock and the bonanza of speculation it has caused. The server was a secondary chat channel where users of the Reddit forum could come and talk, discussing the topics of the day. Thanks to the bevy of press coverage surrounding the explosive rise of GameStop stock, the server has become swarmed with new users.
And it turns out those new users may have not been so tightly controlled. According to the company behind the chat channel, they have been trying to get a handle on a problem of behavior with this channel for some time. There have apparently been numerous complaints and issues with moderation, including allegations of rampant hate speech emanating from the server.
Discord says it took this action after finding repeated reports of “hate speech, glorifying violence, and spreading misinformation.” The freeware chat service has come under fire for the decision.
Needless to say, but users really don’t believe this official line. Sure the subreddit and the server were meme-infested pits of chaos, but users doubt that actual hate speech occurred. There’s no way to prove malfeasance anyway, as Discord likely won’t release anymore information about the ban. Some more conspiratorial users are claiming that there was nothing going on until Wall Street Bets tried to get one over on the hedge funds. Some present the sneaking suspicion that an investor may have pressured Discord into shutting them down.
Greenoaks Capital and Index Ventures are two lead investors in Discord who both led recent funding rounds. A cursory examination of the funds these firms run reveals no direct connection to GameStop.
The Verge says it joined the Wall Street Bets Discord server while it was still active, and did find users “spamming hateful language, including racial slurs.”
Here’s the statement from Discord over the ban:
The server has been on our Trust & Safety team’s radar for some time due to occasional content that violates our Community Guidelines, including hate speech, glorifying violence, and spreading misinformation. Over the past few months, we have issued multiple warnings to the server admin.
Today, we decided to remove the server and its owner from Discord for continuing to allow hateful and discriminatory content after repeated warnings.
To be clear, we did not ban this server due to financial fraud related to GameStop or other stocks. Discord welcomes a broad variety of personal finance discussions, from investment clubs and day traders to college students and professional financial advisors. We are monitoring this situation and in the event there are allegations of illegal activities, we will cooperate with authorities as appropriate.
Discord has had a pretty shady reputation over the years, especially in regards to hate speech. The “alt-right” movement that gained steam in 2016 following the election of former US President Donald Trump had used the platform as a nexus for communication and organizing for months. Dozens of channels were found on the service directly spouting far-right talking points, and being filled to bursting with bigoted language. In 2018, Discord banned dozens of different channels to clear up the problem, although it’s an ongoing battle.
More recently, Discord banned the main channel used by Trump supporters following the Jan. 6 attempted coup at the US Capitol. That action has also led to the banning of prominent leaders and channels of the far-right, including former US President Donald Trump, from various social media platforms.