The Pentagon was scrambling last week after it discovered its largest document leak since the actions of Edward Snowden. The classified documents were obtained by Russia after they were posted to a Minecraft Discord channel.
Discord, a chatting app used most popularly by those in the gaming community, has been in the spotlight after documents leaked by a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard were traced back to his actions on the platform.
Discord operates differently from other social media platforms, being that it is organized into public and private groups called servers, which often are unsearchable and require an invitation to enter. Servers then allow for different channels or chat rooms set up for different topics. This allows for much more secrecy on the platform when compared to other, more traditional forms of social media.
The server in which the documents from the Pentagon were initially leaked is called “Thug Shaker Central,” court documents shared.
The man alleged to have leaked the documents on Thug Shaker Central is 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, the leader of the private Discord server.
Teixeira is accused of having shared more than 300 photos of classified documents to the Thug Shaker Central server and having shared classified information since 2020, according to The Washington Post.
“Today’s arrest exemplifies our continued commitment to identifying, pursuing, and holding accountable those who betray our country’s trust and put our national security at risk,” the FBI said in a statement after Teixeira was arrested in connection to the leak.
On the server, Teixeira allegedly shared the classified military documents, several of which are linked to CIA briefings. The documents were leaked onto the Thug Shaker Central server in mid-January, court documents alleged.
The Discord server had around 20 members in it at the time of the leak, with Business Insider reporting that they were almost exclusively young men or teenage boys. Topics discussed in the server often included video games, guns, and military gear.
However, while the documents were leaked in January, they remained on the private server until one member decided to share them further.
The discord user who goes by the name of Lucca, allegedly decided to share some of the documents in the larger, publicly searchable group dedicated to a YouTuber, which had closer to 4,000 members in it, in March, reports say.
One of the admins for the server, whose username is Krralj, spoke with The Guardian about the leak, saying that he had known Lucca for several years and that the thought of the documents being legit never crossed his mind.
“Lucca is a young fellow who’s a good guy but a bit stupid when it comes to stuff he does online. We asked him not to post the documents, and he did it anyway. But only a dozen people saw that post,” Krralj said.
After the post was made, Krralj told ABC News that he quickly tried to remove the posts, saying that the entire chat was inevitably deleted to try and control the damage.
“We didn’t even want the documents to be spread ... we don’t want to spread dangerous documents to danger lives of people,” Krralj told ABC News.
However, another teen who spoke with The Guardian about the situation said he saw the post by Lucca, thinking it was fake, and thought it “would make a funny joke” to post them on another Discord server dedicated to Minecraft.
Then in April, they were posted on 4chan and then on the pro-Russian Telegram channel.
“About a month later, in early April, somebody posted them on 4chan to win an argument. That later got to Russian Telegram channels, where they were doctored,” the anonymous teenager told the Guardian.
It was after the documents were shared on Telegram that the Pentagon caught wind of the leak, resulting in the arrest of Teixeira on Thursday.