Discord: How To Stay Safe on The Fastest Growing Messaging App

Discord silently appeared in 2015, and in the past few years, it’s exploded in usage. Discord more than doubled its mobile user base from 2020-2022 as it steadily scrapes market share away from the top competitors, Facebook Messaging and WhatsApp.

Discord brands itself as “Your place to talk.” The app features servers in every niche, from finance to gaming, anime to education. Users worldwide flock to Discord for its ease of use, immense functionality, and thriving communities.

Discord Usage Statistics

Discord boasts over 150 million active monthly users on more than 19 million active servers. According to research completed by Statista and published by Spectrm, Discord’s market share is slowly increasing year over year.

In the first quarter of 2020, Discord accounted for only 3% of the total market share for messaging apps, while Facebook Messenger led the pack with 58%. By the first quarter of 2022, Discord’s market share grew by six percentage points, while Facebook’s shrank by the same amount.

Discord Benefits

Discord offers substantial benefits over traditional messaging applications. Users can message friends individually or in groups, host video calls, and share their screens. The free version includes everything you need to use the app, but users can also pay for advanced features, such as the ability to use custom emotes on any server or upload larger files.

Discord’s communities are organized into servers. Individual users can create a Discord server for any topic and invite friends from anywhere in the world to join.

Servers are private by default, allowing owners to limit access to those with an invitation. Individual server owners set the rules and guidelines for their communities.

Discord’s bot integration enhances the platform. Users can add various bots to their servers, adding extra functionality not offered within the baseline system. Bots provide additional moderation capabilities or integrate with other platforms such as Twitch, Twitter, or Trello. Some bots are just for fun, offering games, statistics, or music that keep servers engaging.

Discord created a perfect blend of community, privacy, and functionality.

Scams Abound on The Platform

Unfortunately, no messaging app is perfect. Discord, like other social media platforms and messaging apps, is rife with scammers and individuals seeking to do harm.

Discord Nitro is the application’s paid premium offering. A common bot scam entices victims with a free subscription. When users click the accompanying link, hackers can access their accounts.

Other common scams include cryptocurrency scams, where bots offer users free crypto coins or exclusive access to early releases, and friendship scams, where nefarious players attempt to build relationships through direct messages before pouncing.

Rinal Patel, a realtor out of the Philadelphia region, fell victim to one of the friendship scams. Patel joined Discord upon receiving an invite from her niece. She enjoyed the vast array of functions within the platform and began using it regularly.

One day, a random user messaged her with a funny cat video. She laughed, and the account continued sending random jokes and videos for weeks. Because of the friendly interactions, Patel assumed they must know each other. Guessing who was behind the account became a game.

Over time, the relationship developed into a friendship, and Patel felt comfortable with the account. One day, they received a direct message from their ‘friend’ with an offer to join a paid service. The link directed Patel to what appeared to be a Discord page requesting personal information. Because Patel trusted the user, she input her information, only to later find her bank account drained.

In-App Safety is Also a Concern

One of Discord’s most popular features is also one that raises many safety concerns. Private servers are fantastic for creating niche communities and safe spaces.

However, as they are created and moderated by individuals, they can also become breeding grounds for radicalization, harassment, and misinformation.

Children Are Particularly at Risk

Predators lurk everywhere online, and Discord is no exception. The platform’s user guidelines restrict access to those under 13; however, the rule is impossible to enforce in practice, and even teenagers are at risk.

Kimberly King, author and authority on sexual abuse prevention, says it’s a fact that our kids have access to the internet, and predators know exactly where to find them and how to groom them.

Discord is no more dangerous than any other app, but its unique features offer predators numerous ways to interact with their targets.

Keeping Kids Safe on Discord

King says communicating with your children about online predators is crucial to ensuring their safety. “An educated and empowered family is an unattractive target for an abuser,” she said, adding that parents should encourage open discussion about what’s happening online.

Parenting expert Victoria Cornell from Motherhood, Life, Balance agrees, advising users to “Be open with your kids. Have frequent conversations with them around the topic. By making it a regular occurrence, they’ll be more likely to watch out for it and feel comfortable coming to you.” She said these conversations could apply to everything kids may be exposed to online, including bullying, grooming attempts, or radicalization attempts.

Although Discord doesn’t offer parental controls, it does allow users to change their privacy settings to ensure in-app safety. Parents should ensure their children are using the strictest privacy settings available and should monitor their online activity.

Discord Takes Safety Seriously

Discord goes to great lengths to ensure user safety. In 2019, the company began publishing quarterly transparency reports to show users their work in keeping the platform safe. Each report contains vital information about how many accounts were warned or disabled and the reasons for the warnings.

Discord takes child safety especially seriously. The most recent report, published in December, shows that Discord disabled over 40,000 accounts over child safety concerns.

The report also illustrates Discord’s commitment to fighting harassment, extremism, and hate, disabling over 25,000 accounts over these behaviors.

Despite Concerns, Discord Is a Great App

Every online platform comes with risks. Nefarious players lurk wherever potential victims hang out, and Discord is no exception.

The app is growing in popularity due to its exceptional functionality and versatility. As any platform grows, scammers will follow. Understanding how to stay safe on the platform is vital to enjoying all it offers.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self-educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming, and her cats