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Discord rebrands as a chat app, distances itself from gaming

Popular gaming chat app Discord is pivoting away from video games and rebranding as a place to talk and build relationships for everyone, not just gamers.

CEO Jason Citron announced the move in a blog post and detailed that its new slogan is “Your place to talk.”

“Games are what brought many of you on the platform, and we’ll always be grateful for that. As time passed, a lot of you realized, and vocalized, that you simply wanted a place designed to hang out and talk in the comfort of your own communities and friends,” Citron said.

Discord launched in 2015, and it’s a popular platform with more than 100 million monthly active users. The company said that people spend 4 billion minutes in daily conversations throughout its 6.7 million servers. It also noticed that many people using the platform weren’t using it in gaming-related ways at all.

In response, Discord said it would make several changes to its app to streamline the user experience.

“We’ve fixed hundreds of bugs, increased voice & video capacity by 200 percent, and continue to invest in reliability and performance as our top priority. We’ve also made the jokes and references within the app less gaming-specific to make sure everyone can take part in the fun and make Discord more welcoming,” Citron said.

The “welcoming” part is important and specific because Discord has had issues regarding bullying and has served as a place for white supremacy groups to congregate and communicate. White supremacists used it as an organizing platform ahead of the Charlottesville protests. In 2018, Slate called the site a “safe space” for white supremacists.

Through that lens, the rebranding makes sense, and Citron was sure to include wording about safety and rules in his announcement about the pivot.

“We recently launched a Safety Center so everyone can understand our rules, know what behavior is acceptable or not on Discord, and the tools at your disposal to protect yourself from content or interactions you don’t want,” Citron said. “We will continue to take decisive action against white supremacists, racists, and others who seek to use Discord for evil.”

On Juneteenth, Discord made a statement that the company had a responsibility to make sure the app “is not used for hate, violence, or harm. Our goal is that Discord is used to build meaningful relationships and strong affirming communities.”

Discord said it wants the new direction to help people find real connections, humanity, and belonging.

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