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I have tried my best to make this post as accurate as possible, citing sources where appropriate and going to great length to be very detailed. However, despite by best research and editing efforts, I am only human and mistakes do happen. I will do my best to correct any errors when they are pointed out and I have free time.
There is a HUGE Discord presence on Reddit and it goes without saying that plenty of people won't like what I have to say. Be wary of those who solely post opinion, and always ask for sources. Should anyone notice I am lacking a source where one would be a good fit, by all means let me know and I will do my best to include it when I have time.
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The Discord messenger is a complete privacy nightmare. The app has managed to claw its way into popularity despite rampant abuse of its users' privacy. By aggresively marketing itself as a messaging platform specifically "for gamers", Discord has amassed over 14 million daily users according to their company page at the time of this post. The team behind Discord understands that gamers carry their product, and don't hesitate to slap their "for gamers" branding as many places as they can. Unfortunately, popularity and a "pretty" UI does NOT automatically translate into good privacy practices. I will be analyzing the Discord app in this post and hopefully we will get a great discussion below.
So What is Discord?
Discord was founded in mid 2015 by Jason Citron. Citron previously founded the OpenFeint mobile gaming social platform, which was subject to a class action suit in 2011 over abuse of its users privacy through invasive tracking services. Allegations included accessing private device information without any prior permission and selling this data to other developers. The company behind Discord initially tried their hand at game development with the production of the MOBA "Fates Forever". Upon failing to gain any substantial popularity, the company then decided they would try playing with development of a VoIP chat app and had sold OpenFeint for $104 million. The company cited frustration with current chat applications and lack of an application they liked as their inspiration for Discord. Grabbing investment capital in the millions range, the company broke ground on the development of Discord. According to the CEO Jason Citron, Discord only promoted their app on Reddit and let the gaming community do the rest.
Short and sweet, Discord is a proprietary VoIP chat application that allows users to communicate over text, voice, or video chat [Source]. The service is completely free to use which makes it attractive for widespread use. Discord is marketed particularly as the chat app "for gamers" and takes advantage of its popularity in this niche to stay on top. Discord has only recently begun to explore monetization options, previously claiming to rely solely on the investment captial they recieved when the service was being developed. The app is cross-platform, meaning it works on all devices and stays synchronized between them. With a modern UI, fun graphics, and a development team adamant on appearing to be "gamers" just like you, Discord passes itself as a trustworthy program that does exactly what it says. Unfortunately, the developers choice of technology, their statements online, and their privacy policy all contradict this trustworthy, fun impression we are expected to believe.
The Privacy Policy
Let's start with Discord's Privacy Policy. You can view it here or by finding it yourself at the bottom of the Discord website. As per the statements in their Privacy Policy, Discord:
  • Collects and stores your IP address, device ID, username, email address, ANY messages/links/text/etc sent over the service, ANY images/videos/media sent over the service, transient VoIP data, and a very vague "or other content you send via the chat feature". Discord reserves the right to store this data on their own servers, those of their affiliates, agents, and/or service providers, as well as "in copies made for backup and business continuity purposes for additional time". Please note that Discord at NO point communicates how long they will store your data within the privacy policy.
  • Monitors and tracks your activity across the service, storing accompanying data as listed above.
  • Compiles aggregate data on user demographics, interests, and behavior. Discord reserves the right to share this with current/future partners and third parties, and at NO point communicates how long Discord, its partners, or these mystery third parties store all of this data.
  • Can obtain information from social network accounts tied to your Discord account, and presumably share information back based on the service.
  • Employs the use of cookies. Discord claims this is "to keep track of your local computer settings", though potential exists for much more.
  • Uses third party analytics programs, such as Google Analytics to track its user base. Discord lazily refers you to the Privacy Policy of those companies if you want to find out how your data is abused. It no longer matters to Discord what happens.
  • "Personalizes" advertising through tracking and advertising platforms may collect this data for use outside of Discord.
  • Does not mention how long all of the data above is kept for, and again lazily refers you to the Privacy Policies of anyone they give your data to if you want to know what happens to it.
  • Does not delete any chat logs, user information, or media when an account is supposedly "deactivated". This does little more than essentialy prevent you from logging in to your account.
  • Claims to take "reasonable" steps to protect all of the information described above and does not provide any additional detail on how they accomplish this or specifically what these "reasonable" steps are.
  • Reserves the right to "share your information with our Related Companies" in addition to the partners and affiliates described above.
  • States specifically that "Developers using our SDK or API will have access to their end users’ information, including message content, message metadata, and voice metadata". Their very vague "information" wording can be assumed to include ALL data listed above.
The Discord Team
It's pretty apparent that the team behind Discord could care less about the privacy of its users, as has been shown multiple times through official statements and correspondence online. The Discord team has most noticably refused on multiple occasions to go open source, implement secure and proven end to end encryption, and to delete the data of users that no longer wish to use their service. The developers would rather exploit their users to make money under the guise of acting like "gamers" just like you instead of taking a honest look at how the privacy of the Discord app could be massively improved. The refusal to even consider showing us the Discord code or consider using end to end encryption to protect its userbase indicates that the devs want something in the code to stay hidden or that they can't afford to lose out on the revenue generated by cheating their users out of privacy. Inside sources interviewed by TechCrunch claim that Discord insiders cashed out in secret while Discord quietly raised ~$50M in funding.
On Discord's feedback forum, the Discord team sought user input on ways to improve Discord. A suggestion was posed to "Implement WhisperSystems Encryption for Voice and Text" in the interest of protecting their userbase's privacy and boosting the security of the Discord platform. The development team said clearly that "we are not currently planning on implementing end to end encryption" and "E2E encryption is not a focus nor currently planned". The team stated directly that "encryption on Discord is a very hard problem to solve" despite the readily availabile documentation and resources available for helping devs implement strong encryption. Coming from a development team that the very same post claims "has a huge focus and commitment to security" and has "a heavy interest and historical background in security", it's rather incredulous that they claim this can't be done with millions of dollars backing them. I have provided the original posting here for reference.
When confronted on Reddit as to whether or not Discord's source code would ever be opened, the Discord team was quick to respond, stating "We don't have plans to go Open Source". No further comment was given. That original thread can be found here. Another posting asking a similar question regarding an open source Discord was shot down fast with the team responding "No, we will not". When asked by multiple users why, the team refused to give any further comment on the matter. That thread can be found here
The Business Model
Any time that a service is free, the first question you should ask is "How do they make their money?". Very few people/organizations are willing to provide things truly free without getting some kind of profit out of it. This is where Discord's business model is a little confusing and more of a big gray area than anything else. As stated previously, Discord is sitting on a pretty sizeable investment of millions of dollars (see above). Discord claims that this is what they use to fuel their company and have stated many times before that they would explore monetization options later on (again, see above). Discord introduced a premium service called "Discord Nitro", which grants users extra functionality in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. Other than that, Discord honestly doesn't have much else going for it. The service has refused to host ads (no ad revenue), does not charge for use of its program, and its current plan to make money (aside from Nitro) is to sell stickers/merch gear. While I am not saying it's flat out impossible to run a worldwide online service solely on an optional subscription and selling chat stickers, I'm pretty confident in saying that IMHO Discord would be struggling without that huge capital cushion to fall back on. This begs the question as to what Discord will do when they no longer have millions of dollars to rely on. If Discord indeed cannot make enough off of its premium service or its sticker sales, should the user expect to be flooded with ads? Maybe the Discord team will find it profitable to explore selling all of that user data they collect and store for an unspecified amount of time (see the Privacy Policy or section above). Successful or not, it would be responsible on behalf of the Discord team to disclose exactly what their plans are in much more detail than "we plan to sell stickers" or "here's this little subscription service for a while".
Make sure you read and understand what you are signing up for online. Encourage your friends to use more privacy friendly alternatives to abusive programs like Discord. By ALL means, I would love to see this turn into a big discussion over the service, so please feel free to leave a comment and debate!
Discord loves to present itself as a company run by a few gamers just like you. The service aggressively advertises itself as "for gamers" with the hope that this "reputation" alone will propel Discord to the top. This has worked really well. The Discord team has refused, however, on multiple occasions to take certain steps to protect their userbase, described in more detail above such as adoption of E2E encryption or going open source. Instead, the Discord team states clearly in their privacy policy that they will gladly hoard a plethora of data about their users indefinitely, loosely claiming to only delete it when its no longer needed. The data they collect and store includes (but is not limited to) full chat logs, all chat media, a list of who you chat with, email address, IP address, device ID, behavioral analysis, activity tracking on the service, pulling info from social media accounts you link, and much more as stated above and in their Privacy Policy. Discord shares this same data with all of its partners, affiliates, agents, and "Related Companies" while lazily instructing you to check their privacy policy to find out what happened to your information, as its no longer any concern to Discord. In addition, Discord goes further to say "Developers using our SDK or API will have access to their end users’ information, including message content, message metadata, and voice metadata". Their very vague "information" wording allows Discord to send whatever they please while, of course, leaving it up to you to go check their privacy policy and figure out just where and to who Discord sloppily throws your data around. Discord continues to show little to no progress or effort in considering open source code, strong end-to-end encryption adoption, or even something as simple as allowing the deletion of an old account. It is important to note that while Discord allows the "deactivation" of an account, their support team will happily inform you that they do not delete your data and your account cannot be deleted. This data is again stored for an indefinite period of time.
EDIT: Minor formatting issues resolved.
all 130 comments
[–]zJws 60 points61 points62 points  (36 children)
Discord and Skype are both awful for privacy. The community really needs to make a P2P encrypted alternative that is targeted at gamers.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 26 points27 points28 points  (1 child)
Discord is still revered as an amazing program because it's "free", looks pretty, and works. For the vast majority of users out there, that's the only thing that matters. The Privacy Policy and ToS will never be actually looked at by these users, and they will either have zero idea what they agreed to or just genuinely don't care. The best thing I know to do is to try to expose what is going on behind the scenes. At the minimum, at least people no longer have the "I didn't know" excuse and are in full control of whether or not they choose to let their privacy be trampled on for profit.
[–]BaronVSS 6 points7 points8 points  (0 children)
looks pretty
This was effectively the reason someone gave me as to why they use discord over mumble. Being datamined by the NSA < having a fast, efficient but barebones looking UI.* I also think there's a "my immediate friendship group is using it and doesn't want to switch, so I gotta use it too" thing going on. That's probably mostly the reason for its snowballing success.
*I fucking hate enablers. I hate them so very, very much.
[–]buffalonuts 9 points10 points11 points  (27 children)
What's wrong with mumble?
[–]glowingRadon 34 points35 points36 points  (17 children)
Probably gonna get hate for this, but because Mumble is ugly. It's got an outdated UI and fugly. To get encryption adapted by the masses, the app needs to look modern and pretty - the general public isn't going to want to use something that looks like it came out of the 2000s.
A sleek UI (e.g. Discord) goes a long way to convincing people to switch.
[–]Shadefox 6 points7 points8 points  (6 children)
Probably gonna get hate for this, but because Mumble is ugly.
Ugly doesn't come into it. Discord just has more functionality than Mumble.
Mumble is a VOIP program for talking directly to someone who is at their computer, and is currently logged onto the same server you're on.
On Discord I have 4 servers I've joined. I can see all chat messages from the last few months that have been said in all of the rooms on all servers. This means I see what people have been saying while I wasn't online. This is a pretty big thing.
In EVE Online, Discord is used by nearly everyone at this point because it's great for organization, with different rooms for reporting intel, information, or sending notices that people need to know. And it has VOIP on top of that, though most I know use TS/Mumble for VOIP.
Being easy to use and manage rooms and create your own server also helps.
[–]tacularcrap 4 points5 points6 points  (0 children)
man, i wish someone invented IRC.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (4 children)
Just so you know, Discord calls each individual room a "server". This is misleading as each of these "servers" is in fact hosted directly on Discord's hardware. As far as your comment goes, I really struggle to see what makes Discord so different from the vast majority of other VoIP programs, aside from their aggressive marketing campaign to appeal to gamers like you. By establishing themselves as a platform particularly "for gamers" (this is plastered all over their site) and designing a clean, modern UI, Discord has risen to popularity. Thank you for contributing!
[–]SomeRandomGuy0 2 points3 points4 points  (1 child)
The fact that it has the best mobile interface of all VoIP is a big pull. We use it to run out DnD network and keep in touch while traveling. I can moderate some of our busier boards from my phone.
I’d love to switch to something with better privacy options, but the mobile platforms suck, and it’d be impossible to get our users to switch over unless the service has a comparable or better mobile platform.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
Understandable. We have to demand Discord makes changes to protect its users or support the development of better alternatives. Thanks for contributing!
[–]Smarag 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
I really struggle to see what makes Discord so different from the vast majority of other VoIP programs,
wow really? It's simple, you can sent anybody a link and start a voice chat with another person who has never used discord before in under 3 seconds. Such a smooth experience is unheard of amongst gamers. It used to be an half an hour long struggle of people first installing the app (or make an acc before that as with TS3) and then fixing / tuning their mic/ skype setting.
[–]Shadefox 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
Just so you know, Discord calls each individual room a "server".
I'm aware of this.
As far as your comment goes, I really struggle to see what makes Discord so different from the vast majority of other VoIP programs, aside from their aggressive marketing campaign to appeal to gamers like you.
My EVE Online Alliance has a Ping channel on Discord. It's a channel for information that everyone NEEDS to know ASAP.
It'll send a notification to their phone if they have Discord on there, or will notify them with a popup on their computer with Discord. If they're not online, it'll nudge them when they start their computer/come on. They can check the channel at any time, on any device to check times and dates. Mumble/TS can't do that.
My Alliance's Intelligence channel on Discord. It's a channel for general information that someone is likely to find useful.
Someone can post something on there while I'm not awake, and I can read it in the morning. I can scroll back through months of intel to double check things. Mumble/TS isn't capable of this.
This is a screenshot from the General chat.
Conversation over a period of 12 hours, a few of them guys that aren't able to play/get online, or are guys that 90% of the time play at different timezones than me. I wouldn't have been able to talk to them and they wouldn't have been able to keep up with us using only Mumble/TS.
We have a leadership chat, where leadership can discuss what we're doing and how to respond to threats. Having to set times and dates for leadership meetings in TS/Mumble would drive me to insanity.
Mumble, TS or Ventrillo are only VOIP programs. They only allow communication between two people if both are online and at the computer, and have actively joined the same server at the same time. If people are in different timezones from you, you will never communicate with them in any manner using only Mumble/TS.
Discord is more like a simple realtime forum, with VOIP capabilities.
And no, we don't actually use the VOIP portion of Discord. We use Teamspeak for that.
Tldr: If you want to make a community of people, JUST a VoIP isn't going to cut it. Your going to need a forum, or Slack, or something else for longer term communication. Discord puts both VoIP and a simple forum into the same package, with an easy to use UI and excellent mobile app for it. That's why it's successful.
Marketing can only get people to try it. It has to be good to get people to stay.
[–]buffalonuts 4 points5 points6 points  (9 children)
Check out the 1.3 snapshot. It's a little better and it's themable.
[–]Askolei 4 points5 points6 points  (3 children)
That mouth icon... Eww.
[–]najodleglejszy 5 points6 points7 points  (2 children)
( ͡° 👄 ͡°)
[–]Askolei 2 points3 points4 points  (1 child)
( ͡ಠ ʖ̯ ͡ಠ)
[–]najodleglejszy 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
( ͡°╭͜ʖ╮͡° )
[–]Necrocomicconn 0 points1 point2 points  (3 children)
Are there any good tutorials on setting up and running a mumble server? Bonus points if it's targeted at those who have minimal to no networking or programming experience.
[–]buffalonuts 0 points1 point2 points  (2 children)
I guess it depends on what you want to run it on.
I used their wiki when I was setting mine up.
I have it figured out pretty well now on a server running debian.
You could also look at turnkey linux which has a mumble package
[–]Necrocomicconn 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
Oh, that mumble package is interesting.
[–]buffalonuts 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
No problem!
Also note that you can get a free ssl cert from let's encrypt to use as well.
[–]zJws 3 points4 points5 points  (5 children)
In all honesty, Mumble just has an ugly UI. That's it. Everything is really good. Though, Mumble isn't p2p which I'd like more but it is decentralized which a good alternative to p2p.
[–]buffalonuts 2 points3 points4 points  (2 children)
Not sure what os you're using it on, but install the development snapshot. I've never encountered any problems and it's a lot nicer imo. I liked discord sounds so I configured mumble to use them instead.
[–]zJws 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
Really? It was redesigned? Then probably just even look bad. If I'm gaming (not common) I'm using Windows.
[–]lo________________ol 1 point2 points3 points  (1 child)
Do you really want p2p though? Would you want to share your IP address with a large group of people?
[–]zJws 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
I only talk to people I know in real life. Only game with coworkers. I guess you got a point though.
[–]spicy_indian 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
I used to use mumble a lot, but I've been struggling with the recent builds. Occasionally it decides to utilize my entire CPU, to the point where I can't even move my mouse smoothly.
[–]buffalonuts 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
Hmm that's odd, I haven't noticed anything like that when I was using it. Although I haven't been gaming/using mumble very often the past couple of months.
[–]Negative_Rainbow 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
The reason I switched from mumble more or less was just because of Discord's dedicated servers. I wasn't super interested in setting up an AWS instance or leaving a computer on all the time in order to have a server with my friends.
Also, I feel like mumble is more focused on voice chat, which is why it is more designed to be connected to one server at a time, where discord focuses more heavily on text chat, which is why they have made server swapping so much easier.
These things come together in a way where for fighting games (as an example), there are discords for different games, regions, and even characters, and one person could be in all 3 discords at once and very easily keep up with the going ons in all 3, which is a convenience you really don't get on Mumble.
Edit: Also being multi platform with full history, so I can go on my phone or my laptop and still access everything has been a huge plus to me over mumble.
[–]maratango 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
Matrix is free, open source, secure (end to end encrypted to boot), and has audio/video chat, so... If you can get your friends on board, fuck Discord.
[–]aasimars -1 points0 points1 point  (0 children)
Casual chat communities of the kind that Discord is used for are difficult to build with a truly private platform, though. The nature of Discord makes it easy for people to join and leave communities, create new accounts, etc. Secure chat programs, by their nature, require multi-part confirmation of accounts, friend requests, anonymization, etc.
[–]noobtube27 comment score below threshold-7 points-6 points-5 points  (3 children)
[–]zJws 2 points3 points4 points  (2 children)
I am pretty sure TS has a bad privacy policy as well. Though, cannot say for certain as I haven't read it (only skimmed).
[–]noobtube27 5 points6 points7 points  (1 child)
Maybe I'm wrong as I haven't looked into it but TeamSpeak does not host servers so what data would they even have to have a policy about.
[–]tssge 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
Also TeamSpeak has quite a profitable business model for over a decade which does not involve selling user data or breaking privacy.
[–]yepes98 24 points25 points26 points  (2 children)
As a heavy Discord user, honestly, the only thing that unsettles me is that DMs are not end-to-end encrypted. I don’t mind servers missing encryption since they are essentially public. The rest seems relatively standard among different policies.
I didn’t use to be privacy-concerned until like a month ago (I am to an extent), which now makes me rethink about my chat/messaging software choices.
As a side note, this service has helped me find friends, games to play, friends that gifted me games... I can go on. In short, I feel very grateful to find this program—I supported them for six months via Discord Nitro. Though now I’ll have to be more cautious with the information I move through my DMs (nothing illegal obviously). According to their privacy policy they are not in the business of selling our data—a fact tranquilizes me a lot and lets me “trust” on them.
Once the new privacy policy comes into effect I’ll request my data just like I’ve done with every other service. I am very curious to see the amount of data they collect from me.
In conclusion I’d say discord is an excellent service which fully satisfies and suffices its target audience, but you may want to think about it twice if you want to treat it as a messaging app like iMessage/Signal/WA/etc. since it’s void of end-to-end encryption.
[–]mission_improbables 1 point2 points3 points  (1 child)
As a heavy Discord user, honestly, the only thing that unsettles me is that DMs are not end-to-end encrypted.
Why do you care.... really? Discord has the private keys which in turn they can view and do with whatever you're saying anyway.
If this is the 'O scary hackers' may get my data, that's not who you need to be worried about.
[–]tssge 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
Discord has the private keys
I don't think you understand the concept of end to end encryption. In end to end encryption the data is encrypted between the participants, not between a participant and the middleman.
There's no reason for Discord to have your private keys.
[–]disneythrowaway66666 12 points13 points14 points  (1 child)

I've been fighting for months trying to get end-to-end encryption on Discord.

Voice = encrypted E2E
Video = encrypted E2E
Servers = public, so no encryption

DMs = Here's where the problem is.

I've asked them several times to implement E2E into DMs and they always deleted my threads on reddit.
I've contacted them through E-Mail and they snuffed me.
I've had a thread gain thousands of likes on /r/privacy, contacted Discord Employees and the CEO, but they don't care.

There's even a plugin for BetterDiscord that implements E2E into DMs. https://github.com/Hmerritt/discord-encryption

About their monetization - I've seen companies making millions of stickers and emojis like that. Remember the Chat platform Xat.com? They were making $1M/year just from smileys you could buy. I've also made insane amounts of money selling cosmetics like that in my games. I don't doubt their monetization model.

Overall people use it because its simplicity, and it's sad they don't care about privacy at all. I could care less about the metadata they store, because I use a VPN, random e-mail, random usernames, and generally have very good security. But what does get on my nerves is the fact that the DMs aren't E2E encrypted.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 2 points3 points4 points  (0 children)
It's really a shame how blatantly unwilling the Discord team is to consider anything beneficial to privacy when confronted. Their posts on Reddit, a couple of which I referenced above, reflect interactions very similar to the ones you describe. I appreciate you taking the time to contribute to the discussion. You could probably make a really interesting seperate post if you've got the screenshots to those interactions.
[–]zasx20 23 points24 points25 points  (6 children)
Friends don't let friends use closed source software
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 2 points3 points4 points  (0 children)
Isn't that the truth. Have a well deserved upvote, and thanks for contributing!
[–]randomgamerguy1997 4 points5 points6 points  (4 children)
Why? There's nothing inherently bad about closed-source software.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 6 points7 points8 points  (2 children)
When software is closed source, you have literally ZERO way of determining what is running on your machine. The glory of open source software lies in the ability of the community to check the code for anything fishy or help find bugs that the devs might have missed. You are placing 100% trust in the company behind the software you are running if it is closed source.
[–]yepes98 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
Here’s datamining from the JavaScript files on their Canary client which anyone can access—it gets updated every time they make a change accompanied with summaries for readability:
[–]maratango 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
you have literally ZERO way of determining what is running on your machine
That's not true, you can analyze the software, it's just a lot more work than if it were open source.
[–]zasx20 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
Except the part where they can do anything and you'll have no clue. It is inherently flawed,I never said it was bad.
[–]Booteille 5 points6 points7 points  (4 children)
I always was curious about how Discord get paid for their services. I had feelings they gathered a lot of data but never checked how bad exactly their privacy disclaimer was. Thanks a lot for your investigation.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 3 points4 points5 points  (3 children)
You're quite welcome! Thank you for your encouraging comment! It is sickening how companies exploit their userbase, and I can't stress the importance of at least briefly reading the ToS and Privacy Policy of every service you sign up for. It seems like there is a lot of interest in this post, so I may consider doing more of these analysis posts in the future.
[–]Booteille 0 points1 point2 points  (2 children)
Yeah! I would love it.
I really hoped ToS;DR get better with the time but I don't see many improvements and we are still missing a good solution to check quickly and easily terms of service.
But I think it's better if we can have a look of the company founder's history as you did. I believe in "We can change to get better" but when a company doesn't want to be transparent about how it works we need to find information somewhere.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 1 point2 points3 points  (1 child)
Backgrounds certainly help, but ultimately, the task of reading the Privacy Policy and ToS is up to you. You have to be aware of what you sign up for, and know what you are willing to agree to/give up. I'm really excited that you liked my post and I'll definitely consider making more in the near future!
[–]Booteille 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
Yeah. I totally agree with the fact this is the user job to read ToS but since they are made to not be read, it's a bit awful and the vast majority of people don't read it because they are used to either not understand what is written, either have to read it for tens of minutes. I hope with GDPR this will get a bit better since it MUST now have to be more legible.
Yeah. Go ahead, that will definitely be useful!
[–]SecondShelf 26 points27 points28 points  (1 child)
TL;DR . >Proceeds to type 3 more paragraphs /s
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 7 points8 points9 points  (0 children)
Apologies. Thank you for your feedback! I can try to shorten it in future posts, but felt it was necessary to communicate a couple sentences from each section to get a complete picture of what I was saying for those users pressed for time.
EDIT: I did go ahead and re-arrange things a bit so that the TL;DR is more isolated. Hope that helped!
[–]Kendos-Kenlen 12 points13 points14 points  (1 child)
Can’t we send a bit of GDPR on them to force them to change their policy ? In particular regarding data deletion.
[–]eobs 2 points3 points4 points  (0 children)
how I wish someone in power could do so
[–]heywoodlh 5 points6 points7 points  (1 child)
This post is very well written and does a great job at pointing TL;DR-ing Discord's privacy policy.
Thanks for taking the time to break this down, especially since it is hard to go over all the privacy policy/ToS documents out there.
I will definitely continue to refer to this article in the future.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 2 points3 points4 points  (0 children)
Much appreciated! This took a lot of work to put together, and if it helps so much as one person better their privacy online, it was all worth it. Thanks for your comment!
[–]lo________________ol 6 points7 points8 points  (8 children)
Discord is to gamers what Matrix is to fans of old-school IRC clients.
The only difference is that Riot occasionally has to serve up encrypted messages, but they still retain all the encrypted contents and unencrypted metadata for current and future consumption.
They even have a clause in their privacy policy about passing around your personal data.
We may share your personal information with any member of our group, which means our subsidiaries, our ultimate holding company and its subsidiaries.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 4 points5 points6 points  (3 children)
I am not advocating for Matrix, the Riot client specifically, or any other program in my post, though this is a really interesting find! I may take a look at it later. Thank you for your feedback!
[–]lo________________ol 3 points4 points5 points  (2 children)
I only mention this because people always mention it as a default alternative to Discord.
Your write-up about Discord is excellent on its own.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 2 points3 points4 points  (0 children)
Much appreciated! This post took a lot of effort, and it's really encouraging to see a discussion taking off. Thanks for contributing!
[–]datahoarder2018data2 -1 points0 points1 point  (0 children)
I absolutely like how you frequently point out the flaws of riot
[–]makeworld 1 point2 points3 points  (1 child)
Matrix is a great protocol though, and I was surprised to learn this about the Riot client. Is there any alternative client with a good ui?
[–]lo________________ol 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
Not yet. That's probably why.
This gives me flashbacks to when Google started the XMPP federated protocol.
[–]maratango 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
You can host your own open source Riot instance, however. (There are also a ton of other clients.)
[–]c-pid 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
This is for Riots official server, and not the Client software. Our company host their own Matrix Server to have control over the data.
[–]Ammutse 3 points4 points5 points  (6 children)
At least I haven't been DDoS'd through Discord, and that may sound jaded. But at this point, I don't care.
People continually got my IP through skype and raised hell for me and my personal life. Discord may not be doing something right by a legal standard but hey, I'm not getting phone calls from some man-child half way across the world.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 1 point2 points3 points  (5 children)
I don't think I understand. With all due respect to you, I seriously doubt that anyone has particular interest in directing a denial-of-service attack at you, much less a distributed one in the first place. According to a source here from Ars Technica and another source here by The Verge, Skype protects IP address exposure by default. I don't advocate for the usage of Skype, but I also don't advocate for ridiculous claims with a juicy "DDOS" thrown in.
[–]rakrakrakrak 3 points4 points5 points  (0 children)
Skype protects IP address exposure by default
That wasn't always the case, as late as 2013 there were several tools available that could find for you the ip address of any skype user, all you needed was their username. It was as simple as going to a website, and typing in someone's username. Less then a second later, you'd have their ipaddress.
[–]Ammutse 2 points3 points4 points  (3 children)
This was more than 5 years ago. I called out a user of a forum centered around a kid's game who was expressing pedophile behaviors. Other people stepped forward about their behavior as well and they got rather irate.
Unfortunately for me, I happened to be friends with one of their friends on Skype. Within 24 hours of calling them out I was receiving phone calls from various teenagers and young adults from said forum. I went and checked to see that they had used my IP obtained from skype with some other info I posted years apart to DOX me and share all of my info. I was 15[?] and it was horrifying. Not long after the information was publicly provided to all of the members of the forum I was unable to use my already awful internet. Calling my provider revealed there was someone sending a relentless amounts of packets to my IP and it was confirmed to be a DDoS.
While I've always assumed it was skype's fault for my IP being handed out, I only had gotten mixed reports from other members of the forum at the time. Though it was generally agreed upon and later confirmed by the people responsible that Skype was used, I remained weary. Made a new account, and moved on until Discord showed up.
While it does sound "too juicy" I have no reason to lie about gross middle-aged men who wanna fuck kids getting mad for me calling them out on a forum for a younger audience. And I'm sure I've got info wrong, so really take it with a grain of salt if you so wish.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 1 point2 points3 points  (2 children)
Very sorry you had such a negative experience online, as I don't wish that on anyone. It's good to see that the issue has been patched on Skype's end and I am glad Discord is working for you as a solution to prevent issues like you described. My goal with this post is to hopefully inspire further improvements to services like Discord, or in the event they choose not to respect their userbase, inspire development of better alternatives. Thanks for contributing!
[–]Ammutse 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
Of course! Thank you for understanding my distrust with Skype. I'm also not trying to dismiss all of the info provided either! Excellent information and very well researched.
I know perfectly well that Discord isn't perfect, but it has made talking to people online way more enjoyable and comfortable for me. I hopeful they won't squander this trust I've put into their company and that they'll continue to improve the impressive product they've made thus far.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
You're quite welcome! I really think Discord has potential, but they've got to put their users first and respect their privacy. Until then, I see opportunity for something better to take its place in the very same way Discord sprung out of nowhere to replace programs like Skype. Thanks for the great discussion!
[–]st31r 2 points3 points4 points  (0 children)
Amen man, amen.
[–]Abaddon182 2 points3 points4 points  (2 children)
The only reason I am so stuck on Discord is the persistent text chat feature alongside the permissions system. Having endless “private” text chats alongside public chats in addition to voice chat channels is so useful (almost required for some games) and is something major that TeamSpeak and Mumble lacks. It is also nice to be able to browse activity in multiple servers without actually connecting to a voice channel.
Another big issue aside from privacy is it has really fragmented most gaming communities. Since it is a free server host and service, literally everyone has their own server and players are spread too thin. It’s much more lonely compared to the good old days when you only knew one person who hosted a server and everyone you knew was on it.
[–]yepes98 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
There are many huge gaming servers out there. In fact they’re the servers with the most members. Fortnite itself is the biggest server on Discord with more than 180,000 members.
[–]Abaddon182 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
And everyone in the giant servers have their own servers where they spend most of their time in voice with friends. Those huge servers are more like a looking for group friend finder because the text and voice channels are actual aids.
[–]happiness7734 17 points18 points19 points  (7 children)
While I appreciate the effort the OP went to in my view these type of posts are kind of dumb. Why? Because why pick on Discord? The entire internet is a privacy nightmare. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, your ISP, etc etc. The whole ecosystem is corrupt to its core.
It far more useful to pinpoint places of sanity than to go, "Oh look over here, more craziness!" Yeah, yeah Discord sucks...what doesn't? That's where the action is.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 30 points31 points32 points  (2 children)
Understandable, and I appreciate your feedback, but we have to start somewhere if we really want to make a change online. Why not start analyzing the most popular services with the least amount of privacy conscious individuals? If my post helps convince one person to change their habits towards more privacy respecting ones, is that not worth every word typed?
[–]heywoodlh 5 points6 points7 points  (0 children)
I agree with OP. Companies and the products they make are able to perpetually make money at the expense of privacy often because consumers don't know what they relinquish with "free" services.
I find that posts like this raise awareness and although this may not spark an entire movement, it will get users thinking about it. There is no way the average consumer will read the privacy policy of all the products they use let alone understand its implocations. Especially since there are so many privacy policies out there.
So I am all for posts like this. Increase awareness and hopefully make gradual changes that eventually get companies to a place where they do care about their consumers. I think the alternative -- just giving up on trying to change these things -- only perpetuates the problem.
[–]YouCanIfYou 3 points4 points5 points  (0 children)
Can't both be done?
For example, to complement OP's critique, what are some useful places of sanity?
[–]noobtube27 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
I mean it makes sense to point out the problems with incredibly popular companies like discord and Google. Because of the fact that they are so popular.
[–]Kendos-Kenlen 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
This is not because most of the internet is shit that we have to focus only on the biggest players. Discord is already 14 millions daily users, which is a lot, so it perfectly make sens to denounce it.
And it’s with companies of that size changing their policies that the internet will improve. Don’t expect the big players to change unless they have no choice (means loosing money if they don’t do so).
[–]Zanriel 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
There are still plenty of viable, more private alternatives. Discord is a new kid.
[–]moonmiilk 1 point2 points3 points  (1 child)
Hello, thank you for writing this!
I do have some questions, for clarification... I received an Email the other day about Discord updating their policy to satisfy GDRP - starting on the 25th of May.
Some of their bullets addressed your concerns in regards to how they use, store, and treat data. However, I still withhold concern in how Discord remains supported - especially when it functions to host servers at no charge.
Do you think their GDRP update eases the issue around user privacy? I agree that encryption should definitely be encouraged and I hope it can be pressured as a standard business practice.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
There is a section of their Privacy Policy that specifically addresses this. You can find it under the section "Your Data Rights and Choices". Unfortunately, this applies only to SOME people based on where you live. I personally believe that the right to privacy belongs to EVERYONE, and therefore still judge Discord solely by their policy towards their entire userbase. Thanks for asking!
[–]heillon 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
Wait until 25th of May and then start a campaign via EU users on the back of GDPR? See what answers/data they get and go from there.
[–]Bertral 1 point2 points3 points  (1 child)
the first question you should ask is "How do they make their money?"
Agreed. I looked it up because I wondered what they did with gathered data, and all I found was some guy from their team saying they don't sell it and we have to trust them.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
Don't forget they also refuse to go open source, refuse to protect messages from being read by Discord's servers using E2E encryption, and literally read off a list of all the people/groups that they give your data to. It's disgusting.
[–]KlyptoK 1 point2 points3 points  (1 child)
If it's free you are the product. In 2018 this should not have to be explained just always assumed. I fully expect all free services and any company that comes in contact with any of my data to do this regardless of what they say or claim anywhere.
People widely use the service so clearly it doesn't matter to them.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
Unfortunately, just because we are aware they do it doesn't make it right. It would be my hope that calling Discord out on its disgusting Privacy Policy would inspire some current Discord users to demand change. I feel that many of these users who "don't care" might simply not know, and therefore by educating them we may inspire them to get fed up. Thanks for contributing!
[–]locksnsocks 1 point2 points3 points  (3 children)
I knew this before I even opened this post. But thank you for posting anyway. When you use that app it screams too good to be true.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (2 children)
You are quite welcome! The way Discord abuses the privacy of it's userbase is disgusting. Thank you for contributing!
[–]locksnsocks 1 point2 points3 points  (1 child)
Hey man I appreciate the politeness. Keep up the good work.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
No worries! Thanks!
[–]eobs 1 point2 points3 points  (1 child)
I recently learned about Discord's privacy issues weeks ago. I'm also a moderate user of the service and have it installed on both on my computer and on my phone. To add, if Discord is installed on your phone, it has access to your contacts for some reason and I don't like it. If installed on your computer, Discord can see the processes running on your computer. If I knew about the privacy issues ahead of time, I would have avoided the service or at least be mindful of the information that I disclose.
Though, I have deleted my Discord account months ago, I can only pray that the information tied to my account would be deleted. I have no contact with my friends or whatsoever after the deletion of my account. I will continue to use Discord soon due to the convenience of reaching out my friends. The least I can do is inform my friends about the privacy issues that lies in Discord and use Discord through a browser or on a minimal Windows install as well as be wary in disclosing information. If I'm lucky, I can convince them to stop disclosing personal information (we have a private server).
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
That's very interesting regarding the mobile app, and especially the way Discord monitors processes on the desktop version. I think the best solution is to pressure Discord into either making changes to protect its users or to start supporting different programs willing to do so. In the same way that Discord sprung up out of the blue, another program can do the same. Thanks for taking the time to comment!
[–]merger3 0 points1 point2 points  (3 children)
This is such a shame. I have largely moved to open source software, but Discord is one of the programs I can't move off of.
I'm in some groups (especially on Reddit) that require me to use Discord. Beyond that, I love using it with my friends because the app works amazingly well at everything it does.
Unfortunately there's nothing else out there that I know of that's as accessible and powerful as Discord, and at the end of the day I suppose it's up to the user to decide if the trade off is worth it.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 1 point2 points3 points  (2 children)
Just out of curiosity, if there was a privacy respecting alternative that was on par with Discord, would you make the switch? Are you unwilling to part with Discord because your contacts use it or because of the features it offers? Thank you for contributing!
[–]merger3 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
If there were some privacy respecting app that had the same main features as discord and worked as well, and be willing to part with the extras.
I'm not sure I could entirely though. For example, I mod a couple subs here and discord is our main method of communication. I can't really just stop talking and I couldn't get a whole server to move to a different service.
I hope that at some point in the future a privacy respecting competitor will pop up and least make themselves a bit better known so people would make the switch more readily.
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
Understandable. Discord is really heavily entrenched right now because it's what everyone uses. I do agree that there has to be some kind of attractive alternative to get the vast majority of people to switch. It's going to be very hard to convince your close contacts to make the switch if the program doesn't look or perform at least as well as Discord does currently. It's quite the shame that Discord continues to refuse to make privacy a core part of their app.
[–]GeekOCrypyto 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
I like discord but seems a little fussy,. Don't know !
[–]Cornchipss 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
Nothing matters except the IP address and device ID, everything else is stuff only dumb people care about
[–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
I don't think there is any reason to call people out for being concerned over things like indefinitely stored chat logs or contact lists. If it's not something that personally bothers you, that is fine. Please do not call people out for being concerned about their personal privacy, especially so on r/privacy. Thanks for commenting!
[–]KoolbIade 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
The fact that they provide a massive free service with no other decent source of income and it's closed source code it's pretty clear that they're selling data.
[–]malaiser 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
End the end encryption is nice...I just wish they'd add an exit button
[–]GunStinger 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
I think the difference between seeing their Privacy policy/EULA as a good/bad/reasonable thing is in understanding why they put everything in there.
The pessimist will assume it is so they can sell your specific data to Big Business.
The optimist view is that if they didn't put everything in there, the program wouldn't work the way it does. They need to store a lot of your data to allow for light-weight cross-platform support (you get exactly the same servers, friends and message history no matter where you log in from). The 'sharing with partners/third parties' is in there because if they didn't put that in there, they would not be able to hire an external company to do work for them - and if you really wanted, you could argue that because they use Google Cloud, they are technically sharing your data with a third party. Keeping other user data (hardware, software, location, internet speed) is also important 'cause it allows them to tailor their software to work on as many systems as possible. Sure, beta-testing works, but they can't feasibly test every hardware combination out there. It's why Steam collects hardware data of its users as well. You don't keep users if your product doesn't work for the vast majority of users.
In short, they have to make their terms as broad as possible if they want to make sure that they can keep the program running the way it does, with options for monitoring, expandability and external support.
Now, that doesn't mean they don't sell (aggregated) user data, it just means that there are legitimate reasons for them to have a broadly worded privacy policy - just like pretty much any major developer has, whether it's for a website, chat-app, photo-editor or video game.
[–][deleted]  (7 children)
    [–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 2 points3 points4 points  (6 children)
    In my section titled "Privacy Policy", I discuss everything that I find to be an issue with the Privacy Policy for Discord. Whether or not that personally discourages you from use of the service is entirely up to you. I am not comfortable having my entire chat logs indefinitely stored on Discord servers with no ability to delete it even after disabling my account. Thank you for your feedback!
    [–]ThrowdoBaggins 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
    with no ability to delete it even after disabling my account
    I wonder whether they realise that’s likely a violation in Australia (and they do operate a handful of servers out of Sydney, so they can’t just pretend that’s out of their hands) from the Australian Privacy Act 1988
    [–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
    That's really interesting. I might take some time to read into that a bit later when I've got some free time. Thanks for contributing!
    [–][deleted]  (3 children)
      [–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 1 point2 points3 points  (2 children)
      I do similarly to what you do and wipe my Reddit messages every now and then once they are no longer relevant to any ongoing discussion. Reddit certainly has flaws of it's own, but luckily there is an option to wipe everything and actually FULLY delete your account. Thanks for continuing the discussion!
      [–]difficult_vaginas 3 points4 points5 points  (1 child)
      Reddit certainly has flaws of it's own, but luckily there is an option to wipe everything and actually FULLY delete your account.
      Not natively... messages are retained unless you use a tool like RedWipe, and even then your messages have likely been archived by a 3rd party indexer.
      [–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
      Correct. This is what I was referring to when I meant "wipe everything". I should have been more clear and will do so in the future. Thank you for contributing!
      [–]Nightshade400 0 points1 point2 points  (7 children)
      If you can't see how a site or service makes its money then you are most likely the product they sell. This is not new or even shocking in any way. Don't say anything you wouldn't put your name to and don't post anything you wouldn't want people to find.
      [–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (6 children)
      Sure, but just because they tell you they will monitor, store, and share your data doesn't make it right. Yes there are ways to protect yourself but in the end, it's still disgusting what Discord does. Thanks for contributing!
      [–]Nightshade400 2 points3 points4 points  (5 children)
      You have the easy option of refusing to use the service, if enough people feel the same way then the service fails and a new one replaces it.
      Being shocked about what has been going on for decades at this point is kind of silly.
      [–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (4 children)
      So it's offensive to you to call out the service for what it does, directly quoting the words of the Discord team and directly quoting their Privacy Policy, solely on the basis that you like Discord and the fact that the way they violate user privacy does not bother you? And to drop the cherry on top, you are insisting this is ridiculous to do on r/privacy? Yes, people can refuse to use the service, but people are equally free to analyze the way a service operates and its underlying policies.
      [–]Nightshade400 2 points3 points4 points  (3 children)
      Not offensive to me in the least, why would you think it was?
      A person signing up for service through them signs both a TOS and a Privacy policy and EULA notice that states what you posted. If you are surprised by the things you found then it means you didn't read the agreement you signed at the start and that is on you not them at that point.
      What I would do is stop and think about how many services have similar policies and some of them have the largest user base on the web...Google, who tracks you more than Google? Facebook? Amazon? Twitter? Instagram? all of these companies have made billions tracking and selling your service, but I bet you have an account with at least one of these and don't plan on ending that any time soon, so why do you care if I am not surprised and that I don't really care all that much about Discord storing my conversations when I already assumed and knew they do this as well as selling or sharing certain bits of it?
      [–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (2 children)
      I don't think you understand my point, and I apologize for not being more clear. Please allow me to clarify. My goal with this post is to educate those users who have not previously read Discord's Privacy Policy with a quick crash course on what it contains. I don't necessarily think that just because they didn't read it the first time that they are now a lost cause. Just as they are able to use the service at any point, they are also able to stop. Just because someone didn't read the Privacy Policy does not mean they are necessarily okay with it. Hopefully, those types of users will read this post because at that point, as you mentioned, they will at minimum no longer have the "I didn't know" excuse.
      I'm personally fascinated at the sheer amount of tracking that occurs online, and I mentioned in another comment above that I may consider doing a few more of these for other big services if the demand is there. It's awesome to get really informative discussion just like your posts, so I hope if this really takes off that I can do some meaningful work. Thanks again for contributing!
      [–]Nightshade400 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
      I see your point and agree with your intentions. I guess it just surprises me that there are still people out there who don't accept that this has been the internets currency easily since the mid to late 90s.
      I wish you well in your endeavor and apologize if I came off combative, that was not my intention.
      [–]SpottedZoomKitty[S] 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
      No worries! As much as I hate that it's true, the majority of the internet still uses technology completely blindly. Most people only demand change when something doesn't work. As long as people can shitpost, they don't really care until someone tells them what's going on. I'm here to help show people what goes on in the background so that they at least understand what they have agreed to. Thanks for the great discussion!
      [–]LionHenry -1 points0 points1 point  (5 children)
      for everyone looking for an alternative: use ts3;
      you can set up an own server in a matter of minutes and since it's open source (AFAIK) the only one having access to the data is going to be you!
      [–]Kendos-Kenlen 0 points1 point2 points  (2 children)
      TeamSpeak3 ? Has it been open sourced? It was a proprietary software back in time, and you had to pay a lot for servers.
      [–]LionHenry 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
      I have no idea, but this came up. And you can also download the data you need to host your own server here
      [–]Bertral 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)
      The SDK is made of closed source libraries. The server application is closed source software.
      [–]Rip17 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)
      why is this downvoted? some idiot salty because muh discord?
      ts3 is discord for grownups and if you host your own server there's no additional subscription cost.
      [–]Bertral 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)
      It's being downvoted because it's false : TS3 isn't open source.
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