Google and GoDaddy aren’t the only internet companies dumping racists in light of the violence in Charlottesville. The team behind the gaming chat app Discord has shut down both accounts “associated with the events in Charlottesville” and the altright.com chat server. As the company explains, it plans to take action against “all forms of hate,” and that its mission is “positivity and inclusivity” — it doesn’t believe gamers will feel welcome if racists have a home in the app.
The move has already drawn criticism from users who believe it’s an attack on free speech and claim that Discord is playing favorites. However, the company maintains that it will take action against anyone who violates its guidelines and terms of service — racists who condone or participate in violence happen to be part of that group. It’s aware that censorship is a “slippery slope,” but it clearly believes that freedom of expression ends when threats begin.
As it stands, services like Discord have pragmatic business reasons to ditch absolute neutrality. As Reddit found out first-hand, racists and other corrosive members tend to scare away fellow users, advertisers and other business opportunities. To an extent, Discord needs a cleaner chat environment if it wants to keep attracting new users and the money that follows.