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Discord has a new problem: revenge porn

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Image: Discord

The chat platform Discord has struggled with abuse, racism, and intolerance on its service, but its problems are far from over — and now include revenge porn. In a report published today, The Daily Beast details how it discovered “hundreds of [explicit] images, almost all of women,” pulled from social media, or of sexual imagery being shared without consent across the platform maliciously.

According to The Daily Beast, the images, videos, and chat logs available on Discord encompass a disturbing range, from rooms dedicated to specific women to sections that only allow “real rape, real daterape, real drugged chicks for rape, videos of real rape, real forced girlfriend, Abused girlfriends.”

Discord was created as a chat platform for gaming communities, and like many internet platforms, it provides an easily accessible option for would-be abusers. Discord specifically disavows revenge porn under its guidelines and punishes users with content removal and account deletion, though it remains easy to simply create new accounts and carry on with their bad behavior. Many of the users involved in these revenge porn Discord chats come from AnonIB, The Daily Beast reports, a popular site for users to share images of women without their consent.

In a statement to The Verge, a Discord spokesperson pointed to the platform’s terms of service and community guidelines, which all communities and users are subject to. “These specifically prohibit non-consensual pornography, harassment, or any illegal activity,” the spokesperson said. “Though we do not read people’s private messages, we do investigate and take immediate action against any reported terms of service violation by a server or user. Non-consensual pornography warrants an instant disable on the servers whenever we identify it, as well as permanent ban on the users. We take consistent and continuous action against these users and servers, and will continue to aggressively take action against violators.”

Like many internet platforms, Discord has been notoriously poor at dealing with abusive content on its service. Despite its increasing popularity among alt-right and white supremacist groups, it failed to crack down on toxic users until after the deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. And even before Charlottesville, its problems with doxxing and “raids” — where trolls and abusers descend on unsuspecting communities — have been well-documented.

It’s easy for Discord to say it’s against the abuse being perpetrated on its platform, but its actions and its investment in moderation need to better match its words. Allowing these communities to not only exist, but flourish, means that its current methods of enforcement are a failure. Solving the worst problems of the web isn’t easy, but at the very least, finding better ones should be a priority.

Update January 17th, 3:44PM ET: Added official comment from Discord.