What Discord is, and why it keeps coming up with stories like the Pentagon leak?


The world learned this week that a 21-year-old National Guardsman is accused of leaking hundreds of classified documents on an online platform called Discord.

While Discord is used by an estimated almost 200 million people online, the service remains a point of confusion in big news stories including the military leak, recent mass shootings and extremist rallies.

What is Discord?

Discord is essentially a messaging platform, on which users can communicate directly with each other, either by text or in voice calls.

Inside Discord, communication happens on "servers," which are similar to "groups" on Facebook or Instagram. Each server can have separate "channels," smaller spaces for select members. 

Just like on Facebook, these servers and channels can be both public and private — though Discord tends to be far more geared toward private communication. Private servers require an invitation to join.

How did the military records leak on Discord?

According to multiple news reports, the top-secret Pentagon documents were originally posted inside a private Discord server accessible by just a couple dozen users. 

The leaks reportedly became public after one of the members of the private Discord server began re-posting them on a different, larger Discord server. From there, the documents were shared to an even bigger Discord server focused on the video game Minecraft. And from there, the documents spread around the internet.

Members of the original server identified the poster as the administrator of a private server, someone they called "O.G." 

Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira was arrested Thursday. He appeared in federal court Friday and was charged with two counts related to the leaks.

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