According to media reports, some adults are using Discord, a popular chatting platform among teenagers, in hidden communities and chat rooms to groom children before abducting them, trafficking child sexual exploitation material (CSAM), and extorting juveniles who they fool into giving nude photographs.
According to NBC News, during the last six years, around 35 examples of adults being prosecuted on allegations of “kidnapping, grooming, or sexual harassment” that purportedly included Discord discussions have been uncovered.
At least 15 of them have resulted in guilty pleas or judgements, with “many more” still awaiting trial.
Those numbers only include reported, investigated, and prosecuted crimes, all of which pose substantial obstacles for victims and their supporters.
“What we see is only the tip of the iceberg,” Stephen Sauer, the director of the tipline at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P), was quoted as saying.
Furthermore, according to the article, a teen was carried across state lines, raped, and found imprisoned in a backyard shed in March after being groomed on Discord for months.
In another case, a 22-year-old guy abducted a 12-year-old girl after meeting her in a video game and grooming her on Discord, according to authorities.
An additional 165 cases, including four criminal rings, were found in which adults were charged for sharing or receiving CSAM via Discord or for allegedly using the platform to coerce children into providing sexually explicit photos of themselves, a practise known as sextortion.
According to the research, Discord isn’t the only internet platform coping with the ongoing problem of online child abuse, as seen by multiple instances over the previous year.
An review of complaints to the US National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) found that CSAM reports on Discord surged by 474 percent between 2021 and 2022.
According to John Shehan, senior vice president of the NCMEC, child exploitation and abuse content on Discord has expanded significantly.
“There is a child exploitation issue on the platform. That’s undeniable,” Shehan was quoted as saying.
Discord, which was launched in 2015, immediately became a hotspot for online gamers and teenagers, and it is now used by over 150 million people worldwide.
Discord warned users last month of a data breach caused by the hacking of a third-party support agent’s account.
According to BleepingComputer, the security vulnerability affected the agent’s help ticket queue, revealing user email addresses, conversations exchanged with Discord support, and any attachments received as part of the requests.
Cyber-security experts identified a new virus in April that is disseminated via Discord, which has over 300 million daily users.