On Monday, the popular chat app Discord permanently banned and deleted an active political discussion group from its servers, citing “dehumanizing or discriminatory” content.
During a typical morning interchange, Damien Wright, the group’s primary moderator, got a notice from Discord informing him there was a violation of the terms of service. Within minutes, the group was no longer accessible or available on the platform. In short order, Wright began receiving texts and calls asking about the group being removed.
“We were a grassroots group,” Wright told Timcast. “In just a matter of moments, five years of hard work and community were simply gone.”
The notice from Discord stated, “Save America (Est. 2017) contains content that encourages or depicts dehumanizing or discriminatory content, or encourages violence towards an individual or community based on their real or perceived membership to a protected group.”
The group, named Save America, began just after the 2016 election. It was the by-product of a previous ban of the group’s core members from the popular website Reddit. The group previously ran a subreddit called “the_Donald,” which focused on the campaign ideas of America First. After being banned from Reddit, the group opened the Discord channel.
Wright, who considers himself politically moderate, was not previously deeply involved in politics. During the 2016 election cycle, he said the Pulse Nightclub Shooting pushed him to search for more information than he could find from the corporate press. As a result, he became part of the original Reddit community, in which he was a moderator.
Wright was a moderator for the group starting in 2016 until after the election, when, in early 2017, he stepped back from moderation. However, the censorship from Reddit caused him to become more active, at which point he began to help moderate the Discord channel.
The group behind the Discord channel also started a political resource website called TheDonald.win, which is now known as Patriot.win. The site has since become a moderate and conservative political information and news resource.
The Discord server grew and gained traction going into the 2020 election for more than five years, with over 6,000 curated, daily active users.
Users were typically vetted and added manually to ensure that the content quality and factual information shared were trustworthy. Wright said the group was a curated and carefully moderated channel.
“This was not an open group, and we watched closely to ensure people were respectful. We utilized auto-moderation to remove content and posts that were offensive. Never once in our five years did we have a violation of Discord’s terms of service,” Wright said.
The group regularly hosted Ask Me Anything sessions, often referred to as AMAs. The Save America group referred to these moments as “digital town halls,” where they allowed group members to get to know so-called America First candidates and other influential voices in the political landscape.
The group has remained focused on offering balanced and accurate information to individuals to help them make well-informed decisions in their voting, according to Wright.
Discord offered no previous warning or notice of an impending ban.
One week ago, the originator of the Discord group, whose username is “sublimeinslime,” was removed from the service. While he prefers to remain anonymous, he has not been able to get an answer from the service as to why he was removed.
Wright continued to state the group’s ongoing efforts to moderate content and remove offensive language and pejoratives that might offend users. As late as yesterday, the group had to moderate a post containing the so-called manifesto from the alleged shooter in Buffalo’s mass shooting. The move resulted in a user being removed from the group to guard against a violation of Discords policies.
Wright, along with Timcast, reached out to Discord to inquire about the ban but have not received a response.