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Discord to Require Expiring Links for All Off-Platform File Sharing

Discord has announced a major policy change regarding off-platform file sharing that will soon require all links to shared files to automatically expire after 24 hours. This change aims to enhance security and curb misuse by making links one-time access only.

In this in-depth article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Discord’s upcoming expiring link requirement including:

  • An overview of the new expiring link policy for files
  • Why Discord is implementing this significant change
  • How expiring links improve security and prevent abuse
  • When the new policy takes effect
  • How users can share files with the new expiring links
  • Tips for accessing files sent via expiring links
  • The impact on users and Discord server owners
  • Potential drawbacks and inconveniences of expiring links
  • Frequently asked questions about the policy change

Let’s take a closer look at how mandatory expiring links stand to alter file sharing on Discord.

An Overview of the Expiring Link Policy

Discord allows users to share files such as images, videos, documents, and more across its many chat servers. Currently, any links to files shared off Discord’s own CDN servers do not automatically expire.

This means anyone with the link can access the file at any time, unless the uploader deletes it on their end. However, Discord has announced this will change sometime before the end of 2023.

After the policy takes effect, all links to files users share that are hosted externally will expire after 24 hours. The link will become invalid after that initial 24 hour period, preventing repeat access.

This makes all shared file links one-time access only. To reshare a file after 24 hours, users will need to generate a fresh new link.

Why Discord is Making This Change

Discord cited several reasons for implementing mandatory expiring links for off-platform files:

  • Prevent malware propagation – Malicious users often utilize Discord to spread malware payloads through files hosted externally. Expiring links curb this by eliminating permanent shareable malware download links.
  • Reduce pirated content distribution – Copyright holders have pressured Discord to limit its platform from being used to freely share pirated movies, software, books, and music indefinitely through permanent file links.
  • Increase user security – Files shared via permanent links can expose users to unanticipated risks in the future if access restrictions change on the host end. Automatic link expiry gives users more control.
  • Enhance privacy – Users may unintentionally leave access open forever to private files through permanent share links if they forget to manually revoke access. Expiry links prevent this privacy issue.

Overall, Discord views this policy change as critical to ensuring its platform can’t be leveraged for large-scale harm while giving users more granular control over file sharing.

How Expiring Links Improve Security and Prevent Abuse

Mandating that all external file links expire after 24 hours enhances security and prevents misuse in several key ways:

  • Cuts off malware propagation – Malware payloads can’t spread indefinitely through permanent file share links. Expiry stops chain infections.
  • Reduces piracy reach – Pirated files can’t be freely shared forever, limiting the scale of illegal distribution.
  • Forces file access review – Users must review file sharing recipients frequently, reducing accidental oversharing.
  • Gives users revocation control – Users don’t have to rely on host policies for access. Link expiry lets them directly control it.
  • Limits external visibility – Publicly accessible files won’t remain forever indexable and discoverable via old links.
  • Prevents forgotten access – User errors in revoking access are reversed automatically after 24 hours, limiting exposure risks.

Overall, the 24 hour constraint sharply curtails the potential for large-scale misuse, abuse, and external threats.

When Does the Expiring Link Policy Take Effect?

Discord plans to roll out the mandatory expiring link functionality before the end of 2023. However, the company has not provided an exact date for the change.

Once implemented, the new policy will apply globally for all Discord users and servers. Users will receive an alert from Discord when the expiry link requirement goes into effect.

Any links generated for off-platform files after the policy is live will automatically expire 24 hours after creation. However, existing file links created before the change goes into effect will not expire.

Server owners may want to audit links and update share settings in preparation for the transition.

How Users Can Share Files Via Expiring Links

Sharing files with the new expiring links works much the same as before. The main difference is that any link will now lose access after 24 hours:

  • Upload or host the file on an external service outside Discord’s CDN.
  • Generate a shareable link to the file from the host service.
  • Post the link in a Discord chat channel, DM, or server.
  • Recipients can access the file via the link for 24 hours after it’s posted.
  • To reshare the file after 24 hours have passed, generate and post a fresh new link.

So the process remains straightforward. Users simply have to be aware that access is now time-limited for any file link shared off Discord’s own servers.

Accessing Files Sent Through Expiring Links

If someone sends you a file on Discord via an expiring link, make sure to access it within 24 hours:

  • Click the link to open it immediately after receiving, or download locally.
  • Bookmark files you may need later to easily find within the 1 day expiry period.
  • Copy any critical files to your own cloud storage or device to retain access after link expiration.
  • If you still need the file after 24 hours, contact the sender asking them to generate a new link for you.
  • Check Discord frequently as senders may proactively generate new links to files you’ve been given access to.

With a bit of diligence, you can download or back up files within the 1 day window allotted by expiring links.

Impact on Users and Server Owners

Discord’s expiring link policy will impact regular users and server owners:

For regular users

  • Link management becomes mandatory for file sharing off Discord’s platform.
  • Recurring file sharing will require renewing links every 24 hours.
  • Accessing shared files quickly becomes more important before they expire.
  • Reliance on server admins to reshare files may increase in some cases.

For server owners/admins

  • Must develop a file sharing management process using expiring links.
  • May face user requests to re-share expired file links more frequently.
  • Server file libraries could necessitate more link renewals and management.
  • Link expiration limits visibility, reducing spam files/piracy targeting the server.

Overall, Discord clearly feels the security upsides are worth the added sharing friction.

Potential Drawbacks and Inconveniences

Discord’s expiring link policy brings notable security improvements. But some drawbacks include:

  • Link management burden – Users must be diligent about renewing access to files frequently.
  • Limits of 24 hour windows – Some files users need for longer than 24 hours will lose access.
  • Lost file access – Users may fail to download files before their access expires.
  • Interruptions to workflows – Some collaborative workflows relying on files may be disrupted.
  • Link chaos – Servers with heavy file sharing may descend into link chaos.
  • Limits on archival – Permanent archives of server files become difficult to maintain.

Discord may need to evolve this policy over time to balance security with user convenience around file access requirements.

FAQs About the Expiring Link Policy

What types of files are included in the expiring link policy?

The policy covers any and all files users share via links leading to external hosts. This includes images, videos, documents, executables, archives, audio, and any other files.

Can server owners/admins override the expiring link functionality?

No, the expiring links will be universal across Discord. Server administrators will not be able to opt-out or disable expiring links.

Will the 24 hour window be customizable for servers?

Discord has not indicated that server owners will be able customize expiration timespans. The 24 hour window will likely be fixed for all servers.

Can users reshare an expired link to essentially extend it?

No, once a link expires after 24 hours it will become completely inactive and not work if shared again. Users will have to generate a fresh new link for the same file.

Will this impact file sharing via Discord’s CDN?

No, the expiring link policy will only apply for files hosted and shared from external platforms. Files uploaded directly using Discord’s content delivery network will not expire.

Does the expiry period start from when I created the link or first shared it?

The 24 hour countdown begins as soon as the file link is initially posted and accessible within Discord, not the time of link creation.

Can I delete or revoke a link before the 24 hour expiry window ends?

Yes, you can manually delete a link from Discord before the 24 hour period elapses if you want to remove access immediately. This will instantly invalidate the link.

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