Teens Are Running Illicit Dating Channels on Discord

Faced with lax moderation, teens are building ad hoc tools to protect their own dating servers

Luke Winkie
OneZero
Published in
6 min readNov 4, 2019

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Illustration: Kelsey Niziolek

OOriginally pitched as a sort of “Slack for gamers,” over the last four years Discord has attracted more than 250 million users and evolved into a catch-all chat platform that lets people debate politics, share music, and watch movies. In recent years, critics and journalists have accused the platform of lax moderation. Now, Discord has become a hub for potentially dangerous underage dating.

Discord “servers” can be created by anyone in a region where the service is available, and function as small communities made up of both text and voice chat rooms. Dating servers are established to facilitate relationships, and the administrators of these servers often instruct users to list their interests, sexual orientation, and the nature of the romantic encounter they’re seeking.

Though Discord does ask users whether they are over 18 before joining channels and servers flagged as NSFW, the platform has no age verification process for checking the ages of users entering dating servers. That means dating servers have also drawn in underage users, with teenage Discord users creating and running dating servers targeted for other teens. OneZero reporting reveals…

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Luke Winkie
OneZero
Writer for

writer and reporter - Red Bull, Sports Illustrated, PC Gamer, Vice, Rolling Stone, Daily Dot, Gawker Media, Buzzfeed, Verge etc - winkluke at gmail