In a blog post released last Thursday, Announce the dispute It will introduce many new AI features in its app: Clyde, AutoMod AI, Conversation Summarizes, Avatar Remix, and more.
Powered by OpenAI technology, these new AI features offer a suite of services to Discord servers. Clyde can recommend playlists, answer questions, have extended conversations, and more. AutoMod AI will have expanded functionality, “harnessing the power of large language models” to alert rule-breaking post edits while tracking conversation context. Finally, conversation summaries will collect messages from chats to compile into a summary for those who have been away from them for a while.
Additionally, Avatar Remix, an app that “allows friends to remix each other’s avatars using the power of generative image models,” is now open source.
Privacy issues galore
The first states that “We generally do not store the contents of video or audio calls or channels” and the second is “We also do not store broadcast content when you share your screen…” You can see the highlighted phrases in the screenshot below.
This is important because it now means that any information Discord collects is no longer protected from AI activity. Yes, I understand that the blog post has been officially edited to state that “Clyde does not record, store, or use any audio or video call data from users.” And no, that has no effect on anything.
Incidentally, this applies to AutoMod AI and conversation summarization as well, since the sole purpose of these toolkits is to collect as many messages as possible in order to carry out their functions. And who is to say what is being done with this information?
Repercussions of loss of privacy
This has the potential to be an absolute mess for privacy for many reasons. Let me preface this by saying that under no circumstances should you write messages or show streams of you committing any criminal activity or sharing private information on Discord. This is still an open internet service, and sharing sensitive information through properly encrypted and protected sites like Signal is not bad policy.
This data collection may violate your privacy in other ways. All of this new data that can now be collected from you can then be turned into data profiles and sold to third parties. This is, of course, something Discord can already do, stating that the information it collects from you can be shared with vendors and related companies for their own business interests. But now it has a much larger set of information to collect – that’s video chat, voice chat, live broadcast, and any other messages the AI tools collect.
Creative business is at risk
While privacy breaches are the most egregious part of this whole ordeal, there’s another problem with one of Discord’s other new tools: the Avatar Remix app. AI tools have repeatedly come under fire for collecting artwork without permission and using it to create images under user supervision.
And quite literally, the whole point of this app – which will now be open source and therefore used more often than before – is to modify the Discord avatars uploaded into it with “generative image models”. What if your avatar is artwork drawn by yourself or someone else? Does AI pull images uploaded to Discord servers?
There is no way to know conclusively as this is reflected in Discord’s policies. All we can do is past and present experiments with other AI image tools Rampant art theft And the lack of artist protection in those cases does not set a good precedent.
This does not even cover the number of written works currently circulating on these servers. Could these works also be aggregated by other AI tools, and then redirected for other purposes without credit or permission?
I really love Discord and think it is one of the most important sites out there right now. Starting from a simple voice chat service for gamers and evolving to much more, it has become an integral part of many people’s lives and a way to connect with others on a global scale.
I’m part of quite a few Discord communities myself, including several writing communities, and I even run a creative server that encourages others to share their art, writing, music, and edits with each other. But now these endeavors are at risk of being stolen, our video and audio call privacy has been stripped away. The same features that gave us the freedom to connect will now be monitored and collected.
Now, I’d love nothing more than to be wrong about this. If this turns out to be a false alarm, I’ll take L in peace. But when I see how tech companies will repeatedly betray their user bases to make a quick buck, I can’t see myself being right. Especially since this isn’t the first time Discord has tried to bank — like that time when founder and CEO Jason Citron tried to push NFT integration on the platform before. Backtrack after user reaction (Opens in a new tab).
All I can advise you at this moment is to go to your privacy settings now and change them. Go to User Settings under Discord to the right of your avatar. Then hit Privacy and Security on the left-hand side and opt out of all the How We Use Your Data settings there. You can see the list in the screenshot below.
“Freelance web ninja. Wannabe communicator. Amateur tv aficionado. Twitter practitioner. Extreme music evangelist. Internet fanatic.”