What is Discord, how do I use it, and is it secure?

Discord is a free voice and text application available for desktop and mobile devices. Originally targeted at a gaming audience, its functionality falls somewhere between Skype and Telegram. Since its creation in 2015, it has become a general use platform for all sorts of communities to talk about their passions and now has over a quarter of a billion users.


How does it work?

When using Discord, you participate in themed servers (which represent a community) in order to message other users. The servers are filled with text channels and voice channels, where you can voice-chat with others. You can also share videos, images, internet links, music, and more. Fortnite and Pokémon Go are two games with particularly big followings on Discord, especially for teens.

Anyone can create their own server after they become a Discord member. You can invite people to join your server with a link. Each server has multiple channels, each of which is dedicated to a different topic or has different rules. Admins can create text and voice channels narrowed by topic or restricted by users, like by user age, for example. A single user can join up to 100 servers, and you can adjust which servers you want to receive notifications from. You can even give yourself a different nickname for each server you join, should you wish.

A single server can have up to 500,000 members, although if more than 25,000 are online simultaneously the owner must contact Discord support for more server space to avoid connection errors. The maximum number of categories for a server is 50 and the maximum number of channels in total is 500.


Is it secure?

With the right privacy settings and monitoring, it’s easy to use Discord safely. Indeed, Discord has a wide array of privacy and safety settings that allow users to control who has the ability to send them direct messages or add them as a friend. However, there’s always a risk that malicious actors may try to message you when it comes to sites and apps with open chat, which is why the platform requires that users be at least 13 years old to use its services.

Some safety features to make use of on the platform include:


  • Its “Safe Direct Messaging” feature – which automatically scans and deletes direct messages containing explicit content (although this isn’t foolproof, and it doesn’t apply outside of direct messages).


  • The ability to set up different roles for members, such as creating roles for moderators who can ban problematic users.


  • Muting or blocking people by right-clicking on the person’s name on the server list and selecting mute or block.


  • Limiting the platform’s data collection practices. To view and change your privacy settings, select the “User Settings” gear icon by your username, then choose the “Privacy & Safety” menu item.


  • For users, to ensure you are using the platform in the safest way, it is important to only accept friend requests and participate in private servers with people you already know.


Discord is free for everyone, although there are bonus features available with a monthly subscription and perks for special Twitch partners. The platform can also be connected to other apps, like YouTube and Spotify, to enhance your experience.

Have you used Discord to speak to friends online? Let us know how you found it in the comments section below.

And, if you’re interested in gaming, why not check out some of our other posts?