Gamer talks about how to be safe on chat app Discord, following New Zealand man’s recent attack

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jun 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-26 18:23:59-04

GOOCHLAND, Va. -- Maggie Zheng is not using her headset to watch a movie or make a business call. She's actually talking to her friend Hari Nagarajan through a chat app called Discord.

"Just about everyone uses Discord," Nagarajan said.

The app has made national headlines after Goochland County Sheriff Jim Agnew said 25-year-old Troy Skinner, a New Zealand resident, met a 14-year-old Goochland teen on Discord. Then he flew on an airplane to Virginia, and was shot by the teen's mother as he attempted to break into her house with a knife, duct tape, and pepper spray.

"He was not invited here, he was not expected here, he had been told in the past that the daughter no longer wished to communicate with him," Goochland Sheriff Jim Agnew said.

The violent encounter took place Friday when the mother was home with her two daughters.

They heard Skinner banging on the door with a brick, the sheriff said. When the mother called her husband, he told her to grab a gun.

When Skinner threw a landscaping stone through the glass door, the teenage girl's mother fired twice, hitting Skinner once in the neck.

He was taken to the hospital and is expected to survive the shooting.

"A lot of people usually find each other through the games that they play," Zheng, who used to be the president of VCU's gaming club, explained.

She said most people who play video games like Fortnite and Dungeons and Dragons communicate with each other using Discord.

They then can request the stranger's Discord name, and start chatting with them there, which is something Nagarajan said is not necessarily dangerous.

However, it can be if you link your Discord account to your other social media accounts.

"If you have just her Discord handle you're not going to know where she lives, but if she had linked her Facebook to Discord, you get her Discord handle and see her Facebook and on her Facebook it says Maggie VCU," Nagarajan said.

He also said to be very careful when creating your Discord username.

"On every website you make an account on use a different name, don't use the same names and passwords everywhere, don't tell people where you live, don't tell people your other accounts ," Nagarajan said.

He also said to not use your real name on your Discord account because that can enable the people you talk to to find your Facebook account or other information that's online about where you live.

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