If you’re a gamer, you probably know what Discord is.
The group chat service, however, has now blown up well beyond its original purpose in the gaming world. Perhaps you’ve heard of Discord, though, and are still not quite sure what it is or what it’s for.
Look no further, Mashable will break down Discord for you right here.
At its core, Discord is a web-based communication app. If you’re familiar with chat services like Slack, which many users are familiar with due to its widespread use in the business world, Discord is in the same category.
However, when Discord was first released by Jason Citron and Stanislav Vishnevskiy in 2015, the app quickly became popular with gamers. Both co-founders worked within the video game industry and were looking to build a better communication tool. So, Discord finding a home amongst the type of users they had in mind made sense.
On Discord, users can participate in voice and video chats, send private text-based messages, and take part in communities, which are called “servers” on the platform.
Over the years, Discord has grown in popularity and has evolved from being a tool for gamers into a full-fledged service for anyone looking to chat or join online communities. Users can even start their own communities, aka servers, and invite users to join. Inside each server, users can set up channels dedicated to specific topics so that users on each server can congregate with others about the issues they’d like to discuss.
Discord is completely free to join. Yes, other chat services like Slack have free tiers with messaging limits.
Discord does not have any such limits. It’s completely free to use with complete access to your messages, history, communities, etc. And, furthermore, it’s free to start your own server too.
However, there are paid subscriptions for bonuses and perks.
For $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, users can sign up for Discord Nitro. This subscription gives users access to free games in Discord’s store and provides platform extras such as animated avatars, custom sitewide emojis, larger file upload sizes and more.
For $4.99 users can subscribe to a cheaper version of the paid service, Discord Nitro Classic, which provides all the platform bonuses except the free games.
Perks, such as extra custom emojis or higher quality audio chats, can also be purchased for a specific server via a server boost. Each server boost costs $4.99. Two server boosts are included with a Discord Nitro subscription.
The two server boost included with the Discord Nitro sub are enough to grant your server access to the first tier. There are three total tiers with each bringing additional paid perks like more slots for custom emojis or even brand new bonuses like a vanity URL for your server.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, quite a few social networking platforms and chatting apps experienced exponential growth as people looked to connect online.
Discord has more than 140 million monthly active users as of the end of 2020, according to the company.
However, Discord likely benefited from an added bonus: The rise in content creators.
Discord has become an extremely popular tool for YouTubers, podcasters, livestreamers, and other online influencers who use the platform to build their internet communities.
For example, Patreon, a monetization tool creators use so their fans can purchase paid subscriptions to each creators’ content, has even integrated Discord into their service. Users who subscribe to a creator’s Patreon can automatically be invited into a private Discord server set up by the individual creator and socialize amongst other fans in what is essentially a VIP room for paying subscribers.
Discord also provides other benefits that have assisted in its rise.
Livestreamers can easily take audio and video calls from guests or other viewers via Discord. There are multiplayer games that can be enjoyed via Discord’s screensharing feature. There are integrations with other services so that you can do things like listen to Spotify with friends in real time. And there are bots you can set up to automate different tasks or provide additional features like polls or news alerts.
If this rundown has sold you on Discord, that’s great. It’s a versatile platform with many different uses.
However, Discord is not meant for secure communications. It is by no means a substitute for an app like Signal. It’s not end-to-end encrypted and all the data you post goes through Discord’s servers. Your data is vulnerable to a breach.
In fact, over the years, there have been quite a few stories about unauthorized users gaining access to private Discord servers and wiping communities of content.
Hacktivists have also taken advantage of these vulnerabilities though. There’s been numerous instances of nefarious groups, such as white supremacist and far right extremist organizations, being doxxed due to unauthorized access to their private Discover servers. However, over the past year, Discord has clamped down on such users.
Users can access Discord at discord.com and chat on their servers right within their web browser upon signing into their account.
There are also desktop applications for Windows and Mac computers, as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
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