Discord

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Discord is an instant messaging application for MacOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. Discord is used to communicate via voice chat and text chat, and has image-sharing and file-sharing capabilities.

Spyware Level: EXTREMELY HIGH

A big thanks to Richard Stallman for linking to our article here! The spotlight is very much appreciated.

Discord is spyware because it collects all information that passes through its communication platform. As Discord is a centralized communication platform, all communications have to go through Discord's official servers, where all of that information can potentially be recorded. The vast majority of said information has been confirmed to be recorded, such as all communications between users. Discord has also been confirmed to use other spyware features such as various forms of telemetry. Discord's main source of income is from investment, from which it has received over $129 million dollars. Discord cannot be built from source and the source code for Discord is unavailable.

Discord does not make its source code available

It is impossible to download and examine Discord's source code, which means that it is impossible to prove that Discord is not spyware. Any program which does not make its source code available is potential spyware.

Discord confirms that it collects large amounts of sensitive user data

Discord explicitly confirms in its privacy policy[1] that it collects the following information:

Discord does not explictly confirm that it collects this information, but still collects it:

The implications of this information can be broken down like this: By recording your IP address, Discord can track your general location (about as precise as which county you are in). Discord can also tell which devices you use, as it uniquely identifies each device, and how much you use those devices, as it can record your device usage habits (since Discord is usually open in the background so that it can receive messages). Discord also records every single interaction you have with other users through its service. This means that Discord is confirmed to log every conversation that you have through Discord, and record everything that you say on Discord, and view all images that you send through Discord. Therefore, none of your interactions on Discord are private. Discord's privacy policy also contains several occurrences of phrases such as "including but not limited to," which is an explicit confirmation that Discord contains more spyware features that are not disclosed to the user.

Discord contains features which allow integration with other spyware platforms

Discord contains the opt-in spyware feature known as "social media integration." This allows you to sync your persistent user identity on Discord with your persistent user identity on other spyware platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. In its privacy policy[1], Discord has confirmed that if you opt in to this spyware feature, Discord will obtain an undisclosed amount of access to information obtained about you by the spyware platforms that you choose to sync with.

Discord contains a process logger

Discord has been confirmed to monitor the open processes on your operating system. This is a spyware feature known as a "process logger" that is generally used to record your program usage habits. This was confirmed by the CTO of Discord in a Reddit thread.[2] In the same thread, the CTO also confirms that this spyware feature is mandatory and cannot be turned off. The CTO and a Discord engineer go on to claim that Discord does not use the process logger to send records of the open processes on the user's computer; however, this is not verifiable as the truth. What we do know is that Discord contains a process logger and sends encrypted packets to its master servers, meaning that it is impossible to prove that Discord is not sharing the information collected by its process logger.

Discord's main source of income comes from selling collected data

Discord has exclusively relied on the information that it collects from users to generate investment and income without any user monetization for the first three years of operation (5/13/2015 to 1/23/2017). This means that its main financial incentive is to collect user data, with other sources of income being secondary. Discord managed to sustain 4.2 million concurrent users on its network[3] without any income other than investments. This is likely because it gets almost all of its money from investment and data mining (spying on) its users. Discord has raised $129 million dollars in investment[4] since 2012. Discord has 45 million users, which means that it can collect an immense amount of data using its spyware platform. Its current user monetization service, Nitro[5], cannot realistically be enough to financially support Discord on its own, especially since the service existed for several years without any money from Nitro. So, there is a strong financial incentive for Discord to sell your information - there is no other way that such a service can feasibly exist at its current level of monetization.

Discord receives government requests for your information

Discord has confirmed in an email correspondence[6] that it does receive government requests for information. So, we know that the government potentially has access to all of the information that Discord collects about you. You can read a copy of the email image posted in the source here in case the link there dies.

Discord has a very high potential to be doing further data mining

Based on its feature set, its financial motives, and the wording of its privacy policy, we know that Discord is capable of collecting much more information than it admits to be collecting. Because Discord is constantly communicating with its master servers using encryption, it is impossible to verify that it is not collecting information that it does not admit to collecting. This is including but not limited to spyware features such as keyloggers, constant hot mic recording, webcam access, and other forms of intrusive data collection.


Further Reading

Friends Don't Let Friends Use Discord [archive.is]
Help Me, Tom's Guide: Is Discord Tracking Me? [archive.is]
Why Discord is Trash
Why You Shouldn't Use Discord
THE DISCORD SITUATION [web.archive.org]

Sources

1. Discord Privacy Policy [web.archive.org] [archive.is]
2. Why is Discord recording our open programs and uploading them? [web.archive.org] [archive.is]
3. Discord [wayback.archive-it.org] [archive.is]
4. Crunchbase [web.archive.org] [archive.is]
5. Discord Nitro [archive.is]
6. Discord receives government requests. No plans on adding E2E Encryption any time soon. [archive.is] [web.archive.org]


This article was last edited on 5/25/2018

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