Discord strikes popular Final Fantasy 15 server over NSFW room

 

Discord’s somewhat recent policy regarding not safe for work (NSFW) content, which often includes pornographic images or cartoons, has some gaming communities concerned about future sudden changes.

Recent controversy sprung up after one popular, partnered Discord server dedicated to Final Fantasy XIV was issued a warning for an NSFW channel and lost its partner status as a result. Server members were reportedly sharing lolicon, a specific type of cartoon subgenre that depicts young girls participating in erotic acts or lewd behavior, and received a warning from Discord administrators. The email, which was uploaded to Reddit by user Eanae, instructed the Final Fantasy XIV server admins to remove the channel, as it violated the company’s terms of service for sharing digitally altered pornography that depicts minors. The server would be deleted otherwise.

Eanae said they took action, but Discord refused to give them back their partner status. Partner status helps large Discord communities by providing additional features and moderation tools. They’re an important part of maintaining a large community. Eanae inquired about the decision, and a Discord administrator brought up a number of offenses found within the server, including offensive comments made by members alongside content in the NSFW channel.

“By being a Partnered server, we hold your community to a higher standard and trust that your server is one that anyone can enjoy without worry,” says an email sent to Eanae, which was uploaded to Reddit. “Unfortunately, you and your server’s behaviors and actions have not fostered a welcoming home. If anything, it’s become a server that has gotten bad enough for users to write into our team directly about. This is a final decision and the perks will not be restored.”

Vulgar and offensive language in Discord servers is its own problem — one that affects nearly every server. NSFW channels are a more complicated situation. Discord administrators are trying to crack down on the distribution of certain types of pornography, including lolicon and revenge porn. Revenge porn was a problem for Discord earlier this year, when others discovered as servers and channels dedicated to sharing that content. Revenge porn and lolicon is forbidden by Discord’s terms of service.

The company has since tried to crack down on a very serious issue, but there is some discrepancy between what is allowed on Discord servers and what isn’t. Is general porn or less offensive content ok, as the community guidelines state below, or is it just partnered statues being affected?

That’s what Eanae is upset about.

“Why is there no policy to work with server owners — especially partners who want to make sure we’re not breaking Discord guidelines,” Eanae wrote. “Why is there no appeal process? The entire situation is a bit tilting.”

Much of the Discord community at-large agrees. NSFW channels are popular on Discord, and many people use Discord as a way to share sex-positive LGBTQ content. Other servers, dedicated to popular fandoms, share erotic fanart or fan fiction. It’s not just people copying and linking various PornHub links.

The language used by the company in its community guidelines (a set of rules users are asked to abide by) clearly state that pornography is generally fine as long as it exists within its own properly labeled NSFW channel on a server. The community guidelines state the following is not acceptable:

Sharing content related to minors that is sexually suggestive or violent. Do not share or post links to images that depict minors or underage individuals engaged in violent, sexually suggestive, pornographic, shameful, or otherwise inappropriate situations.

Sharing or linking to content with intent to shame or degrade another individual. Do not share sexually explicit content of other people without their consent. Do not share or promote sharing of revenge porn.

The community guidelines also state:

Not properly labeling NSFW channels. Some content just isn’t appropriate for kids under 18, so let’s do the right thing in our community and label any channel containing adult content as NSFW. This will add an age gate to the channel, protecting those who wish not to see.

The confusion is mostly centered around partnered servers, like Eanae’s Final Fantasy XIV server. Discord changed its rules in February for partnered servers, asking for server admins to prevent NSFW chatrooms on their servers because they’re representative of the company. A Discord representative issued this statement to Polygon:

The Discord partner program is a way to recognize some of the best voices on our platform and by doing so is an endorsement of that server and its content. That designation means partners are held to a higher standard and must adhere strictly to our community guidelines. In addition to these guidelines we instituted a ban on not safe for work (NSFW) content for all partner servers in February 2018. If a partner is found to be breaking these rules, we will contact them to remove offensive content and if they are in consistent violation their partnership status may be revoked. This policy was created so that our community can feel comfortable within a designated partner server, and we will continue to provide this safe environment for all community members.

Still, the company understands how confusing the situation is. Another representative addressed the situation on Reddit, writing:

We’ve definitely failed to properly document and communicate this rule, both for new partners and existing partners who have forgotten/missed our previous clarifications. I’ve asked that our partner team clear up the wording on this matter (namely, you can have a nsfw-marked channel for things like spoilers/etc, but they cannot contain explicit or other adult content) and that we document this rule in a few places to make sure folks don’t miss it and can find the information when they search.

None of which is putting the community’s mind at ease.

“The r/Gaymers discord is pretty pissed about this,” one Reddit user wrote. “They had one channel where a lot of people talked about sex and shared porn and selfies, which was a really positive environment for people coming to terms with their sexuality and allowed them to gain a lot of confidence with like-minded people. Now they’ve lost that unless the server admins want to give up partner perks. This is just all really stupid. If it’s not hurting anyone why would they care?”

Polygon has reached out to Eanae for more information.

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