Reasons not to use the Discord communications system
- The Discord communications system requires running a nonfree client program. That alone is reason to refuse to use it.
- The program reportedly collects lots of data about users.
The developer denies the claim that Discord reports which processes are running on the user’s machine. I have no way of determining the facts about this specific point. Whether it collects those particular data is a minor detail; I mention it only to avoid appearing to assert a criticism that might not be true.
For the same reason, I mention that selling personal data is not the sole way that the company makes money.
I don’t think that question how it makes money really matters. What matters, ethically, is what the software does to users. The developers’ motives for making it do those things are pertinent to understanding the situation but should not affect our moral judgment of mistreatment of users.
- One user quit using Discord because it demanded she fill out a Google reCAPTCHA, apparently because she was connecting through Tor.
- Discord insists on tracking users. If a user connects through a VPN, Discord demands that user provide a phone number.
- Discord locks accounts that don’t have associated phone numbers. When an account is locked, also called “deactivated”, the user is not allowed to make real use of it until person adds a phone number.
- Discord may demand to talk with you by phone if it decides you are suspicious — for instance, if you contact it via Tor.
If I understand right, if you use Discord regularly via Tor you would need to carry that phone with you all the time. A burner phone, one what you possess only for a short time, would not be allowed to do the job.
Thus, whoever uses Discord gets tracked either by the Discord server (and anyone looking at where the packets are coming from) or by the phone.
- Users report that Discord shut off their accounts and won’t tell them why.
- I would appreciate suggestions of other pages to use as factual references for specific wrongs committed by Discord, or to correct on a trustworthy basis any false accusations in the page linked to above.
The Discord web site also offers application nonfree programs. You shouldn’t use them, naturally, but they are a separate issue from using the communications system itself.
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