October 24, 2023

Building a Safer Place for Teens to Hang Out

At Discord, we want any space where teen users hang out to be a safe one. We’re putting in the work to keep you and your friends safe on the platform while respecting your privacy.

Here’s how: 

  • We let you choose. You choose what you see and who you want to hang with. You’re in control of your experience. At any time you can mute and block, report unwanted content, choose who you hang out with and how you interact, and leave servers or group chats. With our new initiative, Teen Safety Assist, we’ll be rolling out a series of new safety features to proactively protect teens and offer tips to make their hangs safer, including safety alerts and sensitive content filters.
  • We work together to keep each other safe. This includes our new Warning System that provides more transparent Discord interventions so users know how to do better in the future. We also empower community moderators and admins to keep their eyes on things so their servers stay peaceful and respectful.  
  • We make sure your data and identity are yours. You get to choose what stays private: your identity, messages, and more. When you’re on Discord, what’s yours is yours.

Let’s break each area down a bit more.

Choose what you see and who you want to hang with

Introducing our new Teen Safety Assist initiative: Teen Safety Assist is focused on further protecting teens by introducing a new series of features, including multiple safety alerts and sensitive content filters that will be default enabled for teen users.

Starting next week, we’re excited to release the first two features of the Teen Safety Assist initiative. Teens have shared that they like tools that help them avoid unwanted direct messages (DMs) and media. To support this, we’re rolling out safety alerts on senders and sensitive content filters that automatically blur media that may be sensitive — even if the sender doesn’t initially blur it with a spoiler tag. 

  • Safety alerts on senders: When a teen receives a DM from a user for the first time, Discord will detect if a safety alert should be sent to the teen for this DM. The safety alert will encourage them to double check if they want to reply, and will provide links to block the user or view more safety tips to safeguard themselves.
  • Sensitive content filters: For teens, Discord will automatically blur media that may be sensitive in direct messages and group direct messages with friends, as well as in servers. The blur creates an extra step to encourage teens to use caution when viewing the media. In User Settings > Privacy & Safety, teens will be able to change their sensitive media preferences at any time. Anyone can opt into these filters by going to their Privacy & Safety settings page and changing their sensitive media preferences.

We’ve partnered with technology non-profit Thorn to design these features together based on their guidance on teen online safety behaviors and what works best to help protect teens. Our partnership has focused on empowering teens to take control over safety and how best to guide teens to helpful tips and resources.

We’re grateful for the support of Thorn to ensure we build the right protections and empower teens with the tools and resources they need to have a safer online experience.

The first two features of the Teen Safety initiative will start rolling out globally in November 2023 and will be turned on by default for teen users. Stay tuned for many more features from this initiative as we look ahead to the next year.

Work together to keep each other safe

We know mistakes happen and rules are accidentally broken. Our new Warning System includes multiple touchpoints so users can easily understand rule violations and the consequences. These touchpoints provide more transparency into Discord interventions, letting users know how their violation may impact their overall account standing and gives information for them to do better in the future.

We built this system so users can learn how to do better in the future and help keep all hangouts safe. 

  • It starts with a DM - Users who break the rules will receive an in-app message directly from Discord letting them know they received either a warning or a violation, based on the severity of what happened and whether or not Discord has taken action. 
  • Details are one click away - From that message, users will be guided to a detailed modal that, in many cases, will give details of the post that broke our rules, outline actions taken and/or account restrictions, and more info regarding the specific Discord policy or Community Guideline that was violated.
  • All info is streamlined in your account standing - In Privacy & Safety settings, all information about past violations can be seen in the new “Account Standing” tab. A user’s account standing is determined based on any active violations and the severity of those violations.

Some violations are more serious than others, and we’ll take appropriate action depending on the severity of the violation. For example, we have and will continue to have a zero-tolerance policy towards violent extremism and content that sexualizes children.

The Warning System is built based on our teen-centric policies. This is a multi-year, focused effort to invest more deeply and holistically into our teen safety efforts. We incorporate teen-centric philosophies in how we enforce our policies, assess risks of new products with Safety by Design, and communicate our policies in an age-appropriate manner.

For the Warning System, this means that we consider how teens are growing, learning, and taking age-appropriate risks as they mature, and we give them more opportunities to learn from mistakes rather than punish them harshly.

The Warning System starts rolling out today in select regions. Stay tuned for many more updates to our Warning System in the future.

For our server moderators and admins, we’ve recently expanded their safety toolkit with new features that allow them to proactively identify potentially unsafe activity, such as server raids and DM spam, and take swift actions as needed. 

  • Activity Alerts and Security Actions: Activity Alerts notify moderators of a server of abnormal server behavior, particularly what could be massive raids or unusual DM activity. From there, they can investigate further and take action to protect their community as necessary. If it doesn’t seem like an issue, they can easily resolve the alert. Security Actions enable swift server lockdowns by surfacing useful tools quicker, such as temporarily halting new member joins or closing off DMs between non-friend server members.
  • Members Page: We’ve reimagined the existing Members page, letting moderators view their members in a more organized way. The Members page now displays relevant safety information about their members like join date, account age, and safety-related flags that we call Signals (such as unusual DM activity or timed out users). We plan on continuing to develop and surface additional relevant Signals. This redesigned Members page appears in a more easily accessible spot above their server’s channel list. 

We began rolling these tools in September to Community Servers, and now we’re rolling them out to all servers.

You choose what stays private

While you might be an open book with your friends, having your personal business out there for everyone to see can feel a bit weird. That’s why you get to decide, from server to server, how much you want to share and how easy it is to contact you.

With Server Profiles, you can adjust to how you present yourself in different spaces, allowing you to be as much of the real “you” as you feel comfortable being in any particular group. 

You can also always try turning on Message Requests: a feature that sends any DM from someone new into a separate inbox and requires your approval before that user can DM you again. Or, go the extra mile and turn off DMs entirely from server members unless you’ve explicitly added them to your friends list.

We’ve got you

PHEW, okay… that was a lot. Thanks for stickin’ around and jamming through our most recent updates with us. Everything you could ever want to know about safety and privacy on Discord, and even more if you’re the learning type of person, lives in our Safety Library — check it out for more tips on making Discord safe and comfortable for you.

This article was first published on 10/24/2023.

Parents and Teens

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