The instant messaging app Discord has banned the retail investor community WallStreetBets on the same day that the group came to international attention for humiliating Wall Street.
The community drew headlines for sending shares in the US retailer GameStop surging after discovering that major financial players had bet massively against the brand.
Their action led to a “short squeeze”, where pessimistic hedge funds are forced to eat losses and close out their short positions to prevent even bigger damage – sending share prices even higher and enriching those who bet against Wall Street.
But their community on the instant messaging app Discord was quickly shut down, with the tech company denying it had anything to do with their notable impact on the markets.
“Today, we decided to remove the server and its owner from Discord for continuing to allow hateful and discriminatory content after repeated warnings” said Discord. “To be clear, we did not ban this server due to financial fraud related to GameStop or other stocks.”
But many questioned the timing of the move, wondering why action was taken for long-standing conduct violations on this particular day.
Top independent journalist Glenn Greenwald, who came to prominence unmasking widespread government spying with the help of whistleblower Edward Snowden, called the timing of the move “an absolutely extraordinary coincidence.”
“Those who have spent years begging and pleading with Silicon Valley to aggressively police speech and content have single-handledly gutted one of the key initial values of the internet: empowering people to compete with corporate & political power centers. This is what you built“Glenn Greenwald on Twitter
The world’s richest man Elon Musk also chimed in, tweeting that the messaging app “has gone corpo”.
Suspicion of major technology platforms has intensified in recent weeks as firms drop the hammer on dissident voices that challenge established power.
Shortly after the January 6 Capitol protests, a number of digital companies cut off the sitting President of the United States Donald Trump.
Twitter competitor Parler was subsequently removed from both the Apple and Google app stores, locking the fledgling service out of 99% of the world’s smartphones while Twitter alienated millions of users.
The crackdown on Parler continued in the following days when Amazon pulled their servers. The tech giant, like Discord, claimed it had done so over long-standing content moderation concerns, although many commentators found the timing suspicious too.
It has led to a widespread international movement against Big Tech, with many prominent political figures speaking out for free speech and governmental autonomy.
Angela Merkel, the President of Mexico, and even the governor of the state of Florida have hit out at tech censorship in recent weeks, and the Polish government is currently in the process of drawing up and passing tough new laws that will force social media companies to protect freedom of speech.
And last week the Australian government lashed out at Google over threats about withdrawing Google Search from the country in the face of tough new laws for the tech giant.