CARU Determines Social Media Platform Discord Complies with COPPA and CARU Guidelines with Proper Protections for Children Under 13
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New York, NY – October 6, 2020 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), a division of BBB National Programs, determined that Discord Inc. is not an online service directed to children as defined by Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and CARU’s Guidelines for Online Privacy Protection.
Identified during CARU’s routine monitoring program of child-directed content, Discord is a social media platform that provides text, voice, and video communications services and is available on desktop, in browser, and on mobile.
Discord is popular with users who play multiplayer videos games. CARU observed channels that featured games with a significant number of users under 13, including Fortnite, Pokémon Go, and Roblox. Many YouTube influencers with large teen and tween followings also have channels on Discord and encourage viewers to visit their Discord channels. Concerned about the potential for an online audience of children under age 13, CARU carefully considered whether the online service would be considered “child-directed” under COPPA and CARU’s Guidelines.
CARU assessed evidence provided by Discord demonstrating its intent to direct its online service to adults who engage in competitive online gaming, the mature content of the most popular games for which Discord servers are created on the platform, the platform’s design, the lack of advertising campaigns directing its service to children or a younger 13-17 teen audience and its use of a subscription-based business model rather than a typical data-driven social media model that monetizes online behavioral data and determined that Discord is not intended for use by children.
“Though it isn’t always the case, the outcome we hope for is proactive corporate accountability on children’s privacy, and that is exactly what Discord delivered,” said Dona Fraser, Senior Vice President Privacy Initiatives, and Director of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU).
CARU also looked at the privacy by design and proactive measures in place by Discord, including the implementation of a large Trust & Safety team that responds quickly to reports of under-age use.
As a general audience service, Discord is permitted to age screen and block children under 13 from using its services. CARU was pleased, in this instance, that Discord decided to implement a neutral age screen as an added measure to ensure that children under age 13 do not register and use the online service.
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About Children’s Advertising Review Unit: The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), a division of BBB National Programs and the nation’s first Safe Harbor Program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), helps companies comply with laws and guidelines that protect children from deceptive or inappropriate advertising and ensure that, in an online environment, children's data is collected and handled responsibly. When advertising or data collection practices are misleading, inappropriate, or inconsistent with laws and guidelines, CARU seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of companies and where relevant, enforcement action.
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