By Jason and Stan
All of us at Discord were horrified by George Floyd’s murder. We are horrified by the murder of Breonna Taylor, of Rayshard Brooks, of Ahmaud Arbery, of countless other Black people across America, and disgusted by the continued police brutality against the protestors.
Racism is not only something you consciously do. It is not just vicious comments and violent acts. It’s insidious. Racism is baked into our institutions and our way of life, from education to property ownership to voting. And it’s a reality faced by Black people and people of color all around the world.
If we don’t create change where we can, we are complicit in perpetuating white supremacy and the oppression of Black people. As Discord, one of the most popular communications services in the world, it is our duty to use our large sphere of influence to help in unique ways.
We have a responsibility to ensure that Discord is not used for hate, violence, or harm. Our goal is that Discord is used to build meaningful relationships and strong affirming communities. Today, on the day that commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States, we want to share the concrete actions that we are taking to achieve this goal.
We created a company task force focused on identifying and implementing actions we will take from a product, policy, and people perspective to make Discord more diverse, more trusted, and more inclusive, for our users everywhere. The taskforce is led by our COO, and we’ll back it with the right resources to implement its recommendations quickly and comprehensively.
They will focus on three main areas for action:
- How we can combat hate on Discord
- How we can use our reach and scale to promote justice
- How we can act as an employer to train, hire, and retain underrepresented people
This taskforce has already identified and started to implement across these three areas:
Combating hate on Discord
Like every mainstream communications service, we have to contend with people using Discord to promote hate and to abuse others. To be clear: hate has no place on Discord. As we’ve grown as a company, we have taken decisive action to make Discord hostile to white supremacists, racists, and other groups who seek to use Discord for evil.
We have invested in people — Trust & Safety is one of the largest teams at Discord — and in technology to proactively identify and ban bad actors from the platform. In 2019, more than half of the servers we removed for violent extremist content — many of which were white supremacist servers — were removed proactively by our team, before they were reported to us. We will keep increasing that number. In recent weeks, we have been monitoring our platform very closely to find and remove anyone seeking to use Discord to organize around violent extremism or disrupt protests.
Today, we commit to two additional actions to make sure we are as effective as we can be against the spread of hate on Discord:
- We will undertake a third-party audit by an organization active in researching the spread of hate and racism to observe how Discord works, how we enforce our policies, and to make recommendations for us to be more effective. And we’ll share what we learn so others in the industry can make use of their expertise.
- We are investing significant engineering resources internally to develop software to find and manage abuse proactively. We commit to an open source strategy, which means other companies can benefit and build on what we learn. We hope this also inspires companies to release their tools so users can benefit across platforms.
Using our reach and scale to promote justice
As a platform used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, we have a responsibility to use our reach to help those who use their voices to advocate for change and support civic engagement and social justice.
- Starting next week, we’ll begin to use our in-product screens and our blog to raise awareness of anti-racist causes and encourage you to take concrete action, such as calling on local officials to advocate for police reform.
- Over time, we’ll be reaching out to community organizers, civil society groups, advocates, and activists who are on Discord to offer them support and develop resources specifically for them, including dedicated customer support.
Acting to train, hire, and retain underrepresented people
We want the Discord team to reflect the diversity of society. Today we’re committing to:
- Diversifying our senior leadership team as soon as possible.
- Recruiting a full-time Head of Diversity & Inclusion who reports to our Chief People Officer to ensure these efforts have dedicated attention and full responsibility.
- An internship program starting in 2021 geared to underrepresented groups with a 5-year goal of training the next generation of Discord leaders.
We will also look at ways of supporting and donating to important charitable causes. Two weeks ago, Discord donated a combined $150,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Bail Fund Network, and the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor Family Funds. We’re also giving our employees two days every year to do volunteer work for causes they support. We are grateful that we have funds to donate to important causes, but know donations must be accompanied by actions. We would also like to take this moment to encourage everyone to take the time to learn more. Here are some resources to start you on that journey. We plan to share more in the near future:
- Talking About Race — An educational portal built by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, providing tools and guidance to help readers learn more and inspire important conversation. The museum is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.
- NPR’s Code Switch — A weekly NPR podcast run by a multi-racial, multi-generational team of journalists who cover both race and identity. Code Switch covers those messy, uncomfortable, essential conversations with the nuance and depth they deserve.
- Dr. Robin DiAngelo discusses ‘White Fragility’ — University of Washington Professor Dr. Robin DiAngelo reads an excerpt from her book, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.” Dr. DiAngelo explains the phenomenon of White Fragility and discusses how you can develop your capacity to engage more constructively across races.
- Anguish & Action — Collection of resources curated by the Obama Foundation aimed at inspiring, empowering, and connecting people to change their world — this resource list is focused on helping readers learn what they can do to create a more just and equitable world.
Our efforts to combat racism will require time, resources, and sustained attention. This is only the start of Discord’s journey. We’re committed to being in it for the long haul. We will keep you updated on our progress every quarter, and we know that you, our users, will hold us accountable.