Discord's new policies ban dangerous health misinformation

The chat service will also consider off-site behavior in its decisions.

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POLAND - 2022/02/01: In this photo illustration a Discord logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Discord hasn't been as active in fighting pandemic misinformation as social networks, but it appears ready to change its tune. According to Protocol, Discord is updating its community policies to ban any misinformation that poses a "significant risk" of physical or social harm, including claims that threaten "public health." A chat server could face action if it spreads falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines, to put it another way.

The community rules also bar spam, manipulative bots, fake accounts, bad-faith account reporting and "malicious" impersonation of others. The guidelines also forbid hate linked to age, caste, gender identity and serious illnesses. Discord will also consider "off-platform" activity when making decisions on bans and other policy decisions. Someone who belongs to a hate group or commits real-world crimes could face repercussions online.

These updates come alongside clearer privacy policies and terms of service. All of the changes take effect March 28th.

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The changes might be necessary. Wired notes the Institute for Strategic Dialogue spotted a significant number of far-right groups chatting about "egregious" content and plotting raids on sites like Twitch. Combine those with frequently harmful anti-vaccine and anti-mandate protests and Discord risked becoming more of a hub for this toxic activity, however involuntarily.

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