Among the dozens of images that were allegedly shared by a user of an online server on the chat platform Discord on March 1-2, ABC News has examined 38 that seem to be top-secret US intelligence documents.
Users of Discord can either establish their own server or join one that already exists. Discord is organized through servers. A YouTuber with roughly 243,000 subscribers who delivers comedy videos about philosophy, politics, and religion has a private server where the photographs were shared.
The area of the chat server where the photographs were posted was disabled on April 7, not long after the Discord server was made publically known in connection with the alleged document breach. The server is still running; a large portion of his current activity is related to the pictures shared there and the public interest in them.
February: The first of 107 possible document images is reportedly shared by a user of a YouTube creator’s Discord server, according to Bellingcat researcher Aric Toler.
February 24: Leaked US documents are referenced on the Discord server.
March 1 & 2: More images, including 38 images reviewed by ABC News, appear on the YouTube creator’s Discord server.
· March 4th: Ten of the images are shared again on a separate Discord server dedicated to the online game Minecraft.
· April 5: Three images appear on 4chan; five appear in Telegram posts by a pro-Russian channel; One of these contains clear signs of manipulation to inflate Ukrainian casualty figures and deflate Russian casualty figures.
· April 6: The New York Times reveals the existence of the allegedly leaked documents.
· April 7th: The Discord channel where possible documents were shared is publicly identified; Later that day, the channel removed the images and began restricting access.
A review of publicly available content on the server where images of the alleged documents were published indicates pervasive racism, anti-Semitism and references to sexual violence. As with many niche online communities, this group seems to have a language of its own, and it’s difficult to distinguish sincere from ironic statements.