Discord steps up bid to rid internet of ‘appalling’ child sexual abuse imagery

Published:  Tue 21 Nov 2023

Discord has stepped up its efforts to prevent the spread of child sexual abuse imagery, joining with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to make the platform “hostile” to abusers and predators.

Founded in 2015 and with over 150 million monthly active users globally, Discord is a voice, video, and text communications platform that says it “gives friends a place to talk, hang out, and have fun online”. Discord has now joined the IWF, which will help it block access to child sexual abuse imagery.

The IWF is the UK’s frontline against the spread of online child sexual abuse imagery. By becoming a member, Discord will be able to deploy IWF’s world-leading services to keep the platform safe. These include the IWF’s URL List and Keywords List, as well as its Non-Photographic URL and Hash Lists.

Discord will also join a group of “trusted flaggers” for the IWF, meaning they can fast track any suspected new child sexual abuse imagery they discover straight to the IWF’s hotline for a rapid assessment. 

This will help support Discord’s continued efforts to safeguard against any criminal imagery being shared on the platform.

In their latest Transparency Report from the second quarter of 2023, Discord revealed they have removed servers for Child Safety concerns proactively 95% of the time, and servers with suspected child sexual abuse material 99% of the time. 

Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, said: “The abuse of the internet to spread images and videos of children suffering sexual abuse has escalated in recent years. It is clear to us this problem can only be addressed through collaboration and working together.”

“Discord has really stepped up and shown their determination to do the right thing in working to make their platform a hostile place for abusers and predators. 

“Their message is the same as ours, there can be no safe place for these criminals to operate, and children deserve a safer and happier internet. That is what we, along with help from key Members like Discord, work every day to achieve.” 

John Redgrave, Vice President of Trust & Safety at Discord Inc. said: “Child-harm content is appalling, unacceptable, and has no place on Discord or in society. We work relentlessly to make our platform a safe space for our users and to prevent harm.”

“We’re committed to continually exploring new and improved safeguards to keep users safe on the platform, which includes working closely with experts and partners, like Internet Watch Foundation. Safety continues to be one of our most important investments, and we are grateful to work together with the IWF to help combat child sexual abuse material online and create a safer internet for all.” 

Discord uses a mix of proactive and reactive tools to block activity that violates their policies, from advanced technology like machine learning models and PhotoDNA image hashing, to empowering and equipping moderators to uphold policies, and providing in-platform reporting mechanisms to surface violations.

Discord became a member of the IWF in November 2023. 

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