Friday, May 27, 2022

Discord: new policy is taking on health misinformation

Discord: new guidelines prohibit “harmful misinformation” that is ” likely to cause physical or societal harm”.

Discord has recently updated its community policies to ban any health misinformation. It gave an emphasis on tackling the spread of fake news related to the pandemic and Covid19 vaccinations.

In its first major policy update in the past two years, the popular chart server announced a set of new guidelines to prohibit harmful misinformation which is possible to cause physical or societal harm. As Discord clarified the new policy aims at limiting anti-vaccination groups which are very active in this community as well.

According to the company, the new guidelines will ban any post with misleading or false information. Such as anti-vaccine content, medically unsupported cures for diseases, or anything else that could hinder the resolution of a public health crisis like the current Covid19 pandemic.

What Discord announced:

“These changes go into effect on March 28, 2022 — we’re telling you about them now so you can understand what’s changing before then. To agree to the changes, all you have to do is keep using Discord. If you don’t agree, you should stop using Discord” the company said in a blog post about the updates. “Discord users also may not post or promote content that attempts to sway opinion through the use of sensationalized, alarmist, or hyperbolic language, or any content that repeats widely-debunked health claims, unsubstantiated rumors, or conspiratorial narratives”.

It has also updated the terms of service and privacy policy to provide an improved readability, and clarity on how personal data is used.

discord
discord

“Our Trust and Safety team reviews reports by users, moderators, or trusted reports. When someone violates these guidelines, we may take a number of enforcement steps against them including issuing warnings; removing content; suspending or removing the accounts and/or servers responsible, and potentially reporting them to law enforcement”, the company clarified for its updates.

A significant number of anti-vaccine groups

Recently, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue highlighted a significant number of far-right groups sharing misinformation and racist content in the popular chatting server. Analysts and digital experts have also identified security vulnerabilities as well as the lack of an organized and effective way to detect extremist content within the community.

It is true that until now Discord hasn’t been as active in fighting the spread of pandemic misinformation as other social networks. However, it seems that the company aims at improving its services and protecting users from fake news.

Discord has introduced its new guidelines to reverse this perception and create a safer environment for its users. The policy changes are target users who post and promote severely misleading and false health information. However, many experts maintain a wariness towards the effectiveness of the new guidelines and estimate that it would be extremely difficult to tackle all the anti-vaccine groups at Discord.

So far, the company is trying to improve its machine learning algorithms to easily detect extremist content, or any “red flag” words related to anti-vaccine theories. There is also an attempt to cooperate with experts who are specialized in detecting misleading information and Discord is also relying on its community by asking users to report any misinformation they detect.

George Mavridis
George Mavridis
George Mavridis is a freelance journalist and writer based in Greece. He graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. Also, he holds an MA in Media and Communication Studies from the Malmö University of Sweden and an MA in Digital Humanities from the Linnaeus University of Sweden. His work primarily covers tech, innovation, social media, digital communication, and politics.

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