We’re unabashed fans of Discord but this week it has done something that has us and other users raising an eyebrow.
On 16th October Discord published updates to its Terms of Service which contains a class action waiver clause.
“Discord and you agree to resolve any dispute will be brought in an individual capacity, and not on behalf of, or as part of, any purported class, consolidated, or representative proceeding. The arbitrator cannot combine more than one person’s or entity’s claims into a single case, and cannot preside over any consolidated, class or representative proceeding (unless we agree otherwise),” the clause reads.
Now before you get upset at the fact that users can’t launch a class action suit against the firm (they can but we’ll get to that in a moment), it did introduce an arbitration clause.
Arbitration allows two parties to settle a matter outside of a court with the help of an arbitrator. Attorneys and lawyers can be present at an arbitration hearing but it is not a prerequisite. What’s more is that a decision reached during arbitration is legally binding.
Why is Discord trying to discourage class action lawsuits?
The firm explained this in a blog post.
“The current legal landscape in the United States is such that class action lawsuits can be abused. This clause was added because we are now operating a game store and subscription service for profit. Like many other companies, we are now a target for entities who wish to abuse the class action lawsuit,” wrote Discord.
Discord goes on to explain that it is becoming increasingly common for legal professionals to launch class action lawsuits Stateside that cost companies millions. While one would think that this money would go to the folks who brought about the class action lawsuit that isn’t always the case.
Now, Discord is also giving users the option to opt out of the arbitration clause so that if they wish to pursue a class action suit in future they can.
“You have the right to opt out and not be bound by the provisions requiring arbitration by sending written notice of your decision to opt out to Discord by email to [email protected],” Discord says in its terms of service.
There is no downside to opting out of the arbitration clause and you will still be able to use the service and the newly launched Discord Store.
These updated terms come into effect on 23rd October 2018 and those that wish to opt out of the arbitration clause have 90 days from 23rd October 2018 to do so.
So how does this affect Discord users outside of the USA?
The short answer is it doesn’t.
“Our motivation for this change is because of the legal climate in the United States. To protect our users outside the United States, we’ve decided to modify this clause so that it only affects users in the United States. If you are outside of the United States, this clause does not apply to you. This means users outside the United States do not need to opt out if they were wanting to,” said Discord.
Changes to the Terms of Service which reflect the above should be live before 20th October.
We’d like to commend Discord here for a moment.
Firstly Discord is putting its users first. Granted, it just recently opened a digital storefront which exposes it to more risk but the changes made to the terms of service could potentially allow users to get more money should a dispute arise than they would in a class action lawsuit.
Secondly, the firm has detailed all the changes and why its made them on its official blog. Even better it has given users arguments both for and against arbitration so they can make their own minds up.
Even better, it admitted that it should have done more to inform users of this change
“Furthermore, every user was (or will be if they haven’t logged in yet) notified of changes to our Terms of Service on the date they were updated by a blue notification bar at the top of the Discord client. In hindsight, we should have provided notice of these changes much further in advance, so we apologize for that,” explained the firm.
Granted, a lot more could have been done in the lead up to these changes but we feel its worth noting that Discord took the time to address the concerns of the community in the same week they were raised.
Silicon Valley really could learn a lot from the folks at Discord.