~/Simon's Blog ❯

Why the hell are we using Discord?

Discord is something that many people nowadays use to hang out, create communities and some even use it in their school. However, over time they have become increasingly greedy, have failed to support platforms, and have shown clear signs of ignoring issues on the platform. That got me thinking: Should we really be using Discord?

There is valid reasons why one might choose Discord over other services: Chat Organization, Roles, Permissions and Communities just to name a few. Though over time more and more things about Discord have become apparent.
Apart from the community, which is questionable at best, there is tons of different schemes on various Discord Servers which try to trick and/or scam users into doing all kinds of different things. Usually this is done to buy Nitro gifts using other people's credit cards, however there has also been cases where people have been scammed into pyramid schemes, have lost money in crypto scams, and a meriad of other things; All of this whilst Discord has done little to nothing to prevent any of this.
Additionally, Discord is known for not supporting some of their platforms properly. They have often pushed updates which felt like they were supposed to be in their canary release channel, or their Public Beta directly into the stable applications. Look at the semi-recent release of the updated Android Client for instance, which was a port of their React-Native iOS app to the platform and was RIDDLED with bugs in the beginning, many of which have still not been fixed.
Discord's security is also nothing to write home about. They of course have the basics that any chatting service should have, like Two-Factor-Authentification, but they have not implemented crucial security features like any sort of Encryption even without End-To-End Encryption. And even looking outside of that, it is well known that Discord Accounts are never actually deleted; You just loose access to deleted Discord accounts and they then get renamed to something random. Some people have also suggested that Discord Moderators and Administrators can just modify data directly, even if the data they insert is invalid (like invalid emotes, for instance). And on top of that there has been recent controversies about XSS Exploits on Discord's website which could have been easily prevented had they followed the React documentation, which allowed users to get somebody's Discord Token.

Of course, there is other aspects than Discord's security. So what about their Privacy? As I touched on earlier, Discord isn't very good at actually keeping your data safe. There is no inbuilt methods of encryption to speak of, not even insecure kinds of encryption, or encryption where Discord has the key as well as you. End-To-End-Encryption isn't something they do either. Their Privacy Policy also states clearly that they can read your messages, and even VOIP data (source). They don't define how long they will keep logs on your activity for (source), and they can even keep your data after you have explicitly asked for them to remove it (source). There is tons of other points that you can see on Tos;DR which might be noteworthy, but going over every single one would lead to me being here until tommorow.

Of course, there is people which trust Discord, or don't care as much about data security, so what about features? Well...Many of Discord's new features are, to put it lightly, "Inspired" by their competition. The introduction of Forums was on Guilded first, so was the "Home" page that community servers have now, and the text+image chats that Voice Channels have now were also on competing platforms first. Some of the features that Discord offers are honestly done better by other platforms anyways. For instance: Support for the linux desktop is nearly nonexistent, and most of the features that Discord has had "inspiration" from are done better on the platforms they originate (e.g Forums or the Server HomePage on Guilded).

One of the reasons that not many people are using competing products is due to the culture that has built up around Discord, it's brand recognition, and the fact that there is very little competition to begin with. There is Revolt, an Open-Source Discord-like messenger which aims to be self-hostable and will soon gain E2EE, and there is Guilded, a proprietary Discord-like messaging application which offers many features that make communities on the Internet even easier. Technically there is also Matrix, however that usually comes with a little bit of jank, which is why I personally don't use it nearly as much. (Trust me, I've tried many Matrix clients)

Overall, Discord is something that I only really use due to the fact that many of the communities I want to join are on it, and I would leave the platform as quickly as possible if I could. But of course, Discord is huge, so if you want to interact with online communities it is almost unavoidable nowadays.

Thanks for reading! I wish you a good rest of the day, evening, night, or whatever other time you're reading this!

#discord #messaging #privacy