Discord is a widely popular VoIP (Voice over IP) and instant messaging platform with 150 million users. Since its launch in 2015, it has become a priority choice for gamers. Discord allows communication in large or small, private or public servers, screen, video, and image sharing, and calls to organize multiplayer gaming sessions.
But is it safe to trust Discord with your data? Many people use Discord for personal correspondence without thinking twice. However, this might not be the best idea. In this article, we'll overview Discord's security features and compare them with the two most popular privacy-oriented chat apps – Signal and Telegram.
Discord Data Collection and Sharing
User data gathering is a profitable yet seldom ethical practice. Last decade's two enormous scandals – Edward Snowden's NSA leaks and the Cambridge Analytica disaster – sparked an ongoing debate on people's right to privacy.
Firstly, Discord claims they don't sell your data. That is most likely true. Otherwise, they could get in trouble with the law. However, selling does not equal sharing. In the "how we share your information" section, you'll find the following statement:
We may share information with vendors we hire to carry out specific work for us <...> We may also share limited information with advertising platforms to help us reach people that we think will like our product and to measure the performance of our ads shown on those platforms.
Discord shares user data with third parties. Moreover, it looks like they use the same ploy as NSA – collect and share metadata. The trick is third parties can use metadata to identify a person. Metadata collection and sharing are not mentioned in Discord's PP.
What's more, Discord does not play around when collecting user data. Here's a glimpse at what they gather:
- Account information (email/phone number, birthday);
- Any content you upload, including chats;
- Billing information;
- Device information (IP address, operating system, device settings);
- Marketing data (purchases, referrals, ad clicks, even from third parties).
And that's not it. Discord explicitly states,
We may receive information about you from other sources, including from other users and third parties, and combine that information with the other information we have about you.
Some of this information is mandatory to keep their services running. Some of it is not. There is no need to collect or use data from third parties outside of profiting from it.
Discord VS Signal VS Telegram
Both Telegram and Signal use telephone numbers to register an account. Afterward, sharing any other personally identifiable data is up to you. For example, if you want to use two-factor verification, you may use your email address.
The biggest difference between these three services is end-to-end encryption. It means that the communication over the E2EE platform is encrypted in such a way that it's inaccessible to platform owners. Telegram provides E2EE for its secret chats, Signal is E2EE encrypted by default, and Discord does not provide E2EE at all.
That doesn’t mean that Discord is unsecure. It provides two-factor authentication, encrypts data-in-transit with the basic HTTPS protocol, and uses some kind of data-at-rest encryption. Moreover, Discord offers to scan all direct messages for explicit content or limit scanning to messages from unknown parties. In other words, they keep their platform secure from harmful material, including malware and Phishing scams. Simultaneously, they do so at the expense of user privacy.
Signal, on the contrary, does not collect and store any user data (images, chats, videos, etc.) on its servers. If you want to be sure your information is safe and private as a Discord user, you will have to use additional data encryption and storage services to protect it. Moreover, Discord is no stranger to hacking, so it's best to use a secure Cloud to store your questionable-utilization monkey pictures.
Discord is a comfortable gaming chat service and shouldn't be used outside that scope. However, it's a good example of prioritizing security for comfort, including financial benefits for C-level suits.
If you're looking for a reliable, secure, and private chat platform, you should lean towards Signal or Telegram secret chats. At the very least, you should choose a service with end-to-end encryption. As of now, it is one of the very few ways to keep your data truly private.