Social media platforms have been tremendously active against fighting and flagging misinformation, especially during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic. For the time being, Discord has not been much active in fighting pandemic misinformation as other social networks. However, the platform seems ready to change its tune.
Discord’s Updated Policies
In a piece of recent news, Discord’s new policies will ban dangerous health misinformation. The popular chat service will also consider off-site behavior in its decisions. According to Protocol, Discord is updating its community policies. The platform will ban any misinformation that poses a significant risk of physical or social harm, including claims that threaten public health. A chat server could face action if it spreads falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines, to put it another way.
During an interview, Clint Smith, chief legal officer at Discord, stated, “If someone posts on Discord ‘drink four ounces of bleach and your body will be rid of coronavirus,’ that’s actionable. Medical consensus does not support that as a treatment for COVID, and there’s a high likelihood of harm for anyone that follows that advice.”
However, Smith mentions that if someone posts about holding crystals against your chest for 5 minutes and your lung capacity will improve in the context of the pandemic, that’s not something Discord is going to take action against. He added, “Crystals and the healing power of crystals is not supported by medical consensus, but there’s also a very low risk of harm to our users, so that statement about crystals, we’re not going to action it.”
Other Banned Factors
The community rules also bar spam, manipulative bots, fake accounts, bad-faith account reporting, and malicious impersonation of others. The guidelines also forbid hate linked to age, caste, gender identity, and serious illnesses.
Discord will also consider off-platform activity when making decisions on bans and other policy decisions. Someone who belongs to a hate group or commits real-world crimes could face repercussions online. These updates come alongside clearer privacy policies and terms of service. All of the changes take effect on 28 March 2022.
The changes might be necessary. Wired notes the Institute for Strategic Dialogue spotted a significant number of far-right groups chatting about egregious content and plotting raids on sites like Twitch. Combine those with frequently harmful anti-vaccine and anti-mandate protests and Discord risked becoming more of a hub for this toxic activity, however involuntarily.