Discord’s Updated Policy: No Tolerance for Misgendering and Deadnaming

Deadnaming and misgendering trans people is now explicitly banned on Discord, per the platform’s updated hateful conduct policy.

Discord’s hateful conduct policy defines hate speech as “any expression that degrades, vilifies, or dehumanized individuals, incites intense feelings of hostility towards defined groups, or promotes harm based on protected characteristics.”

The expanded policy, which was internally adopted in 2022 and was made public this month as part of an annual review to provide more transparency, notes that users are prohibited from repeatedly using slurs to degrade individuals or groups, including deadnaming or misgendering a transgender person.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to ensure Discord remains a safe and fun place for people to hang out with friends, we continually evaluate potential harms and update our policies,” a Discord spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We often work with organization and subject matter experts to ensure our policies accurately encompass a holistic view of how these issues manifest across the internet and society.”

The updated policy explainer also urged users to report violating content, and suggested removing themselves from spaces where other users are engaging in hateful conduct. The policy also forbids calling for the segregation of or discrimination against protected groups, spreading unfounded claims about protected groups to incite fear or hostility, and perpetuating negative stereotypes about protected groups through “derogatory generalizations and insulting misrepresentations.” Denying well-documented “mass human atrocities” or “casting doubt on their occurrence” is also forbidden.

Discord is one of the few social media platforms to explicitly address and ban misgendering and deadnaming. Post also recently updated its content rules, which now state that “denial of an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation or promoting conversion therapy or related programs that attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are not allowed and will be considered a violation of the Content Rules.”

LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD noted that deadnaming and misgendering other users has become a prevalent practice on social media in recent years, and is often used to attack and harass trans people. In a blog post responding to the Discord update, GLAAD urged all social media platforms to adopt similar policies to protect trans users. The organization pointed out that far-right, transphobic figures aren’t accidentally referring to trans people using the wrong pronouns, or mistakenly using their old names — online, intentional misgendering and deadnaming is “hate speech pure and simple.”

GLAAD previously pushed platforms to explicitly prohibit targeted misgendering and deadnaming in its 2023 Social Media Safety Index report, published in July. The report found that platforms are “largely failing” to mitigate hate speech and discrimination against LGBTQ users, and inadequately enforcing their own policies against hateful conduct.

The report came after X (formerly Twitter) quietly removed its policy against deadnaming and misgendering trans people in April this year. One of the earlier sites to adopt the policy, Twitter initially banned deadnaming and misgendering as a form of harassment in 2018. The removal has further emboldened transphobic rhetoric on the platform.

“This recommendation remains an especially high priority in our current landscape where anti-trans online rhetoric and attacks are so prevalent, vicious, and harmful — and where we also see such an offline onslaught targeting the trans community,” GLAAD wrote in its blog post.

Discord launched a comprehensive warning system with its update to effectively enforce its policies against hate speech. Users who violate the platform’s policies will receive a direct message from Discord with details about the specific policy that they violated, details about the violating content, actions that Discord may take against the user and a link to an explanation about Discord’s Community Guidelines.

Discord weighs each violation differently based on the “severity of harm,” the company said in its explanation of the warning system, rather than establishing a fixed number of chances before users are permanently suspended. Users can check their account standing in their settings. Users with no active violations are labeled “all good,” whereas users with one active violation will have limited access to certain features. Users with one or more active violations are flagged as “at risk,” and users with “severe or repeated” violations face permanent suspension. Most violations expire after 90 days and, but more severe offenses can remain on users’ account records for longer.

Discord will issue a warning to users who were in servers that violated the platform’s policies, or if users engaged with violating content but didn’t post it themselves. Warnings don’t count toward users’ account standings.

“We want our users to learn our rules and stay on the platform, whenever possible,” Discord said its warning system explanation. “We have designed the system to show users what they did wrong, provide more educational resources about our rules, and to place appropriate restrictions on accounts so that Discord users get a chance to make things right.”

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