How to Filter Content on Discord

Learn different techniques for limiting Discord, such as blocking the Discord CDN, or enabling different settings to filter unwanted content.

by Tech Lockdown Team
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Updated December 13, 2023

One of the most popular instant messaging platforms in the world is Discord. For many people (especially gamers, or online friend groups), Discord is an easy way to connect with friends online. Chances are, if you're reading this article, you have used the platform before.

While the potential benefits of platform are readily apparent, there may be potential concerns for those of us who are serious about locking down our technology. For example, Discord allows users to share images and videos on the platform. Most of the time, this content is fine, but certain chat groups (called servers) on Discord allow users to post explicit content.

One way to mitigate this issue is to simply not join those kinds of servers. Unfortunately, scam artists will create lists of members from multiple servers and use those lists to send explicit images within spam or scam messages.

Finding a solution that works for you will vary from person to person. The example we gave above is just one way that explicit content can appear while using the platform. This guide will provide you with some strategies for controlling content within the Discord platform.

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What are Some Ways I Can Lock Down Discord?

If you are wanting to Lock Down Discord, it is important to consider how extreme of an approach you are looking for. For example, you may decide that Discord is just not a good influence for you and decide to block Discord altogether . If this is what it takes for you to resist temptation and improve your habits online, then we highly recommend that you consider it.

However, many of us just want to use Discord to talk with friends. You might consider using other means of communication, such as text messaging or another instant messaging service, but your purpose for using the platform is keep in touch with people. Even if this is the case, we still strongly recommend that you take steps to protect yourself while using the platform.

Block Discord Altogether

This is the most extreme approach, but it is important to mention. If you don't use Discord that much (or at all), and it only serves to be a stumbling block for you, then you should block it. 

There are several different ways to block the platform, more than we can into detail about in this article. Instead, you can refer to our  blocking Discord  guide that explains how to do this for various platforms.

Lock Down Discord's Settings

Many people are unaware of some of the settings that they can enable to protect themselves. For example, you can disable image previews, and make sure that the explicit filter is enabled for all media in messages. You can also change your privacy settings, so getting a surprise friend request from a scam artist is much less likely. 

It is important to note that these changes cannot be enforced - at any time you choose, you can re-enable image previews, or change your privacy settings. However, it possible to block images on Discord in such a way that you cannot re-enable them. To do this, you will need to block the Content Delivery Network that hosts those images.

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How to Block Discord's CDN

One of the things that we recommend doing on Discord is blocking its Content Delivery Network. The Content Delivery Network (called the CDN for short) is how Discord stores and displays images and videos on their platform. Further down in this guide, we will show you how to hide image and video previews, but a problem with doing that is you could easily turn this setting back on.

However, if you block the CDN on the network level, then the main functionality of Discord (such as text chatting, voice chat, and servers) will still work, but images and videos will not function on your device.

There are two main ways we recommend if you are trying to block the Discord CDN:

  1. Use a DNS Filter, either on your device, or on your Home Router.
  2. Use the Hosts file on your computer.

There are several different that each serve their own purposes. We will go over how you can use both a DNS filter and the Hosts file to block the ones we found, but it's important for you to know what the purpose of each domain is:

  1. cdn.discordapp.com: This domain is used to host the server icons, profile pictures, and other icon information. If you disable this, then you can prevent server icons from being displayed. 
  2. media.discordapp.net: This is the main one you'd want to block. This domain includes images and video previews.
  3. discord-attachments-uploads-prd.storage.googleapis.com: Blocking this domain will prevent Discord from being able to upload files.
  4. images-ext-1.discordapp.net: Controls the preview images for embedded videos (such as YouTube videos).

You can choose to block a select number of these, or you may choose to block all of them. This will depend on what you believe is necessary for yourself.

Use a DNS Filter to Block Discord's Content Delivery Network

A DNS Filter usually has both an allowlist and blocklist. In our case, we want to add some domains to our blocklist to prevent images from being loaded on Discord.

Here is a list of all the domains you can block:

cdn.discordapp.com
media.discordapp.net
discord-attachments-uploads-prd.storage.googleapis.com
images-ext-1.discordapp.net
images-ext-2.discordapp.net

Note

You may choose not to disable all of these domains. Each of these domains serve a particular purpose on the platform, so feel free to pick and choose!

We also recommend hiding image previews (we explain in detail how to do this below), since waiting for Discord to fail to load the image can negatively impact performance.

The benefit of using a DNS Filter is that you can set it up to block content on your entire home network . This is very powerful, since you will be able to ensure that all connected devices will have the same level of filtering. Keep in mind that someone might try to bypass these restrictions, but even so, most filters will have a category that you can enable that will prevent bypass:

Using the Hosts file to Block Discord's Content Delivery Network

You can also use the Hosts file to block the CDN. The Hosts file is a special file that exists on both Windows and Mac computers that changes the way that your computer communicates with websites. In our case, we can use it to prevent Discord from talking to its CDN. 

The first step is going to be editing your Hosts file , so if you're unsure of how to do this, check out our guide about using the Hosts file to block websites.

You can add these entries to your Hosts file (just copy and paste them):

0.0.0.0 cdn.discordapp.com
0.0.0.0 media.discordapp.net
0.0.0.0 discord-attachments-uploads-prd.storage.googleapis.com
0.0.0.0 images-ext-1.discordapp.net
0.0.0.0 images-ext-2.discordapp.net

Note

You may choose not to disable all of these domains. Each of these domains serve a particular purpose on the platform, so feel free to pick and choose!

When you do this, you might notice some performance issues when using the platform. We recommend also pairing this with hiding image previews (since you won't be able to see them anyway). 

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How Restrict Content Within Discord

The easiest way to restrict the kinds of content you see within the platform is to use the settings and features available to you from within Discord itself. 

How to Disable Images and Videos on Discord

One setting you should consider disabling (especially if you are blocking the CDN) is image previews. This can be especially useful on public servers, where you aren't sure about what kinds of content you might be exposed to.

How to Change Privacy Settings on Discord

One of the most important things to consider on any platform (not just Discord), is who can interact with you. In general, if you are trying to lock down your devices, you want to ensure that only people that you know and trust can interact with you.

You can limit who can send you a friend request. If you want to focus on privacy, it is recommended to disable friend requests from everyone and Server Members, and you can choose whether you want friends of friends to send you requests.

Under Privacy & Safety, make sure that Allow direct messages from server members and Enable message requests from server members you may not know are disabled.

When you make these changes, Discord will prompt you to apply the settings to already joined servers. Click/tap yes.

How to Filter Explicit Content on Discord

By default, explicit content should be filtered for non-friends. You can go ahead and enable it for all direct messages:

This will allow you to filter images sent to you directly. 

How to Leave a Server in Discord

To leave a Server, you can right click on it and choose Leave Server.

Leaving a server might be necessary if explicit or sensitive content is being shared on the platform.

How to Block a User on Discord

If you need to block a user on Discord, it's pretty simple.

You can right click the user (either from your friends list, or on a server), and click/tap Block.

You can also pull up the user's profile, and block it from there.

Blocking a user might be necessary if they are sending you spam messages. You can also report the user if they continue to harass you. 

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Adding an Accountability Partner to a Discord Account

If you are wanting to get serious about locking down your technology, then you should consider finding an accountability partner. An Accountability partner is someone who you trust, and like you, is also serious about helping you build healthy habits online. 

For many people, it may be a spouse, or partner. It could also be a member of a church or support group. The important thing when choosing one is to make sure it is someone that you trust to help keep you accountable.

With Discord, you might be able to use Family Center to allow an Accountability partner to have insight into your activity on the platform. Family Center lets you share:

  • Which servers you have joined or interacted with.
  • How many messages you've sent (not the content of the messages)
  • Which new friends you've added.

While Family Center lets you share some information, it is not in-depth. It is designed to give a parent visibility into how their child is doing on the platform, but most information is kept hidden. As an example, this is the information that would be available to a parent using Family Center:

Family Center will not enforce any "policies" or "restrictions". You won't be able to use it to prevent members from joining servers, changing their own settings, leaving the family, or pretty much anything else.

For some, this might be enough. Sometimes just having a second pair of eyes keeping tabs on your account might be enough, but it is important to note the limitations.

In order to get set up, there are a couple of things you will need:

  1. A Teen Discord Account. In most cases, this means that you will have to create a new Discord account with an age set between 13 and 18.
  2. A Parent Discord Account. This is a regular account, but the age for the account must be set to above 18.

Once you have these, setting up you accounts to link together is very easy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does Discord block explicit content?

Yes.

By default, Discord scans images from non-friends to see if they contain sensitive content. You can change this setting to filter all images you receive. 

However, this may not always work, as sometimes the settings can be confusing if you have joined many different servers. 

Can you hide image and video previews on Discord?

Yes.

By default, Discord will display and image or video preview in any channels. You can disable image previews , and you will instead see the filenames:

However, it's important to note that hiding image previews as a setting can easily be turned off. We recommend blocking Discord's Content Delivery Network (see above) in order to ensure that images can be displayed at all.

Can you block images on Discord entirely?

Yes! You can do this by blocking Discord's Content Delivery Network (see above).

In order to this, you will need to use a DNS filter, or change your Hosts file.

Is Discord safe to use?

Discord as a company has implemented several safeguards that do make it a relatively secure platform. However, because of its popularity, many malicious actors might use the platform as a way to target or scam people.

Recently, there has been some controversy regarding threat actors using Discord to send malware, or to trick users into opening a link to a malicious website. 

In general, you should limit what servers you join, and use common sense when accepting random friend requests. Most users don't encounter any type of malicious activity.

Can I use Discord's Family Center to monitor a loved one's account?

Yes.

Family Center cannot change settings for Teen accounts, it can only inform you about what kinds of servers your Teen has joined, how many friends they've added, and 7 days of activity history.

The Teen is also able to leave Family Center if they choose to, however, parents will receive a notification of they do.

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