Discord is purging alt-right, white nationalist and hateful servers

Atomwaffen Division logo.
Atomwaffen Division

Atomwaffen Division, The Right Server, Nordic Resistance Movement, Iron March and European Domas are just some of the servers that were shut down recently as part of Discord’s attempt to purge its platform of hateful content.

“Discord has a Terms of Service (ToS) and Community Guidelines that we ask all of our communities and users to adhere to,” a Discord representative told Polygon. “These specifically prohibit harassment, threatening messages, or calls to violence. Though we do not read people’s private messages, we do investigate and take immediate appropriate action against any reported ToS violation by a server or user. There were a handful of servers that violated these ToS recently and were swiftly removed from the platform.”

A representative from Discord didn’t tell Polygon when the purge first started, but Discord users noted the disappearance of notable servers over the past couple of days. A thread on the Discord subreddit acknowledging the servers’ disappearance was locked by a Discord staff member. Each of the servers affected — TRS, Atomwaffen, Nordic Resistance Movement, Uncesnsored politics , Ironmarch, Pagan Pathway, European Domus and Fashlash — are known for curating content that promotes hateful ideologies and pro-Nazism. Atomwaffen Division, for example, is labeled as a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Atomwaffen Division (AWD) is a terroristic national socialist organization that formed out of Iron March, an influential fascist forum that went offline in September 2017,” a description by the Center reads. “Members, who can be fairly described as accelerationists, believe that violence, depravity and degeneracy are the only sure way to establish order in their dystopian and apocalyptic vision of the world.”

Discord and the Southern Poverty Law Center are working together to try and rid the platform of hateful groups, a Discord representative said. The purge comes at a time when the Center is asking other platforms like YouTube to take a tougher stance on the platform that appears on its side. Atomwaffen Division’s presence on YouTube has come under scrutiny recently, with YouTube announcing today that it will ban content from active users who identify as Atomwaffen Division members.

“Discord’s decision to condemn and ban far-right servers in the wake of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is a welcome example of the commitment required to combat hate in the technology space,” Heidi Beirich, who heads up the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, told Polygon in a statement. “Other tech companies who struggle with these same issues should know it’s always the right policy decision to reject organized hatred.”

This isn’t the first time that Discord has worked to rid its platform of hateful servers and users. Discord released a statement following violent rally organized by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, condemning users spreading hateful messages.

“We unequivocally condemn white supremacy, neonazism, or any other group, term, ideology that is based on these beliefs,” the company said in a statement. “They are not welcome on Discord. While we don’t read people’s private servers, our Terms of Service explicitly forbid harassment, threatening messages, or calls to violence.”

One of the more aggressive servers at the time, Centipede Central, was brought to the company’s attention. Despite reports of hateful content and messages being spread on the platform, the server remains active.

“The team has confirmed that they are aware of Centipede Central and will take action if they find CC is in violation of their terms of service and/or community guidelines,” a Discord representative told Polygon at the time. “Discord takes a firm stand against this type of behavior on the platform.”

Some of the moderators from Centipede Central were instrumental in creating The Right Server, which one person told Polygon in October was designed to get away from the hateful ideology being spread on Centipede Central and exist as a gathering place for conservatives. The server seemed to become more challenging to moderate over the past few months as it grew in size. Discord in general has experienced exponential growth in the past year, gaining close to 75 million users in one year. Eros Resmini, Discord’s chief marketing officer, told Polygon at the time the company was working on better addressing users reports and safety concerns.

“We work closely with our community to address any report of anyone breaking our terms of service or community guidelines and take swift and appropriate action,” Resmini said. “Our team continues to grow as our user base does and our commitment to keeping Discord a positive place for gamers to connect is unwavering.”

Invite links to the eight aforementioned servers are being bounced back with notices that the invitation has expired. Polygon has reached out to Discord for more information over whether specific users are also being banned from the platform.

Correction: A previous version of this story identified The Right Server as The New Right. The story has been corrected to reflect these changes.

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