Suppose you have a Discord server with a member who voluntarily tells people in chat that they are 12 years old. For purposes of this example, the user says

I am 12 years old.

Then after making that claim, they tell the moderators they are instead 18 years old in a private DM. For purposes of this example, the user says

I am actually 18 years old.

My questions are

  1. Whether or not the Discord server is legally required to ban this user after voluntarily saying they are 12 years old, even if they then say it was fabricated, either in the public chat or via private DM.

  2. Outside of banning the user, is there any other action the server administrators are required to take?

  3. Hypothetically speaking, could the server owner/server be held liable if god forbid something happened to or on behalf of that individual?

Useful Information

Discord TOS says:

By using or accessing the Discord application (the “App”) or the website located at https://discord.com (the "Site"), which are collectively referred to as the “Service,” you agree (i) that you are 13 years of age and the minimum age of digital consent in your country, (ii) if you are the age of majority in your jurisdiction or over, that you have read, understood, and accept to be bound by the Terms, and (iii) if you are between 13 (or the minimum age of digital consent, as applicable) and the age of majority in your jurisdiction, that your legal guardian has reviewed and agrees to these Terms.

A recent Tweet from Discord:

Anyone under the age of 13 cannot use Discord per our Terms of Service. If a server owner is aware and ignores it, we will take action on the server and/or owner.


4 Answers 4


Yes (probably), under COPPA

The FTC has stated that YouTube content creators could be held liable under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a United States law that "imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13 years of age, and on operators of other websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information online from a child under 13 years of age." (source)

The FTC's FAQ on complying with COPPA notes that "operators will be held to have acquired actual knowledge of having collected personal information from a child where, for example, they later learn of a child’s age or grade from a concerned parent who has learned that his child is participating on the site or service."

It also has the following question/answer (emphasis added):

I operate a general audience video game service and do not ask visitors to reveal their ages. I do permit users to submit feedback, comments, or questions by email. What are my responsibilities if I receive a request for an email response from a player who indicates that he is under age 13?

Under the Rule’s one-time response exception (16 C.F.R. § 312.5(c)(3)) you are permitted to send a response to the child, via the child’s online contact information, without sending notice to the parent or obtaining parental consent. However, you must delete the child’s online contact information from your records promptly after you send your response.

Assuming the FTC is correct that content creators (not just the service itself) are responsible for COPPA compliance, a Discord server administrator would likely be required to ban/delete the account of a user upon discovering (acquiring actual knowledge) that the user is under 13. It may be a defense that they believed the user's retraction and claim that it was a lie, but I wouldn't want to be stuck arguing that in court (an underage user who doesn't want to be banned certainly would have a good reason to lie about their age upon finding out that they would be banned for having admitted their actual age).


To build up on hszmv's answer, the responsibility to age verity is on the operators of the Discord service. But, since the user has made both statements that they are 12 and that they are 18, the other users cannot be certain that they are 13 or older. The prudent thing to do at such point is to demand further age verification from the user.

What is lost in the conversation here is that the operators of a Discord server are not operators of the Discord service. As such, the operators of the server are just other users of the service. And the logistics of age verification may be beyond the scope of what they are equipped to do. In order to make sure that they are not helping another user evade TOS, they should

  1. suspend the user's account on the server;
  2. notify the Discord service operator of the situation;
  3. notify the Discord service operator of the suspension;
  4. ask the Discord service operator to verify that the user is not in violation the TOS;
  5. if and when the Discord service operator manages to verify that the user is not in the violation of the TOS, the server operators can use their own judgement whether they want to restore the user's server-access privileges.

Generally age restrictions are online are only enforceable if the user discloses his/her real age. Discord's TOS is a contract and a 12 year old would be banned for violating the "must be 13" terms. Discord may kick them. For the server owner, it would be on him/her if he/she does not ban the offender, though Discord would likely only come down on the 12 year old only, thus removing the problem of checking the server owner for knowlege of the user age.

In all likely hood, the verify age done in private with Server owners will only satisfy the servers own age restriction rules. Discord may have grounds to terminate the account just to be safe, which would likely mean the "12 year old user" could return with a new account and not make this same mistake.

Ultimately, as this is a contract between a service provider (Discord) and an end User (12 year Old) the contract explicitly states they will not make contracts (TOS) with a user of 12 so the user violated the contract and thus terminates the User to use of the account they made the statement from.

  • How can someone violate a contract that was never formed?
    – user4657
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 5:25
  • @Nij: Normally TOS contracts form when you use the service. By dint of signing up to Discord with an account, you agree to the TOS terms in full.
    – hszmv
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 12:31

You can tell lies on Discord

I know it’s hard to believe but there have been recorded instances (isolated, I’m sure) where what people have posted on social media is not actually true.

So if someone posts “I am 12 years old” or “is am a half-elf barbarian” or “the 45th President of the USA was the greatest ever” that is evidence of precisely zero weight. It might be true, it might not be true.

Discord is responsible for enforcing their terms of service and complying with the law. Unless you as a “server owner” agree to do this for Discord, it’s not your problem. Even if there is such an obligation in the terms you agreed to it’s likely to be unenforceable as unconscionable. Of course, Discord have the right to not let you use their platform.


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