Online chat platform Discord buys Sentropy, a company that makes AI-based software to detect and suppress online harassment and hate.
Discord currently uses a “tiered” approach to moderation, relying on an in-house human moderation team as well as volunteer mods and admins to create ground rules for individual servers. A trust and security team dedicated to protecting users and developing content moderation policies made up 15% of Discord’s workforce as of May 2020.
Discord plans to integrate Sentropy’s own products into its existing toolbox, and the company will also bring in the management group of the smaller company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition is a sign that taking toxic content and harassment seriously isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s good business, too.
“T&S technology and processes should not be used as a competitive advantage,” Sentropy CEO John Redgrave said in a blog post on the announcement. “We all deserve digital and physical security, and moderators deserve better tools to help them do some of the toughest jobs online more efficiently and with less harmful impact. “
Discord hasn’t always had a reputation for taking dangerous content seriously. Far-right groups linked to real-world violence previously thrived on the platform. Discord cracked down on hatred and extremism in the wake of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which killed anti-racist protester Heather Heyer.
In February 2018, the company was purging white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, cleaning up the platform on its journey to transcend its gaming roots and become a mainstream social network. Now, Discord has 150 million monthly active users and is positioned as a comfortable home for all kinds of communities while maintaining its player base user base.
In a blog post, Redgrave explained the company’s natural connection to Discord:
Discord represents the next generation of social enterprises – a generation where users are not the product for sale, but the engine of connectivity, creativity, and growth. In this model, user privacy and security are essential product features, not an afterthought. The success of this model depends on incorporating next-generation trust and security into every product. We don’t take this responsibility lightly and are honored to be working Discord-wide and with Discord’s resources to increase the depth of our impact.
Sentropy was stealthily launched last summer with an AI system designed to detect, track and clean up online harassment and abuse platforms. The company then emerged with $ 13 million in funding from notable backers including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and his venture capital firm Initialized Capital, King River Capital, Horizons Ventures and Playground Global.
Sentropy will offer Detect and Defend service to existing business customers using its software products through the end of September. The company closed its free consumer dashboard, Sentropy Protect, earlier this month.
Sentropy products were designed as social media independent tools rather than platform specific solutions. It appears that even under the wing of Discord, the team plans to share ideas on creating safer online spaces with the internet in general.
“We’re excited to help Discord decide how we can most effectively share with the rest of the Internet the best practices, technologies and tools we’ve developed to protect our own communities,” said Redgrave.
The future of Discord looks bright. The company moved away from a possible acquisition by Microsoft earlier this year that would have valued it at around $ 10 billion. Discord seems happy to remain independent for the time being and could pave the way for an IPO in the not-so-distant future.