Citing Imminent Danger, Cloudflare Drops Hate Site Kiwi Farms

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Citing an “imminent threat to human life,” Cloudflare has removed notorious harassment and harassment site Kiwi Farms from its internet security services following an online campaign launched by transgender Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti to force it to do so. this is.

“This is an extraordinary decision for us given Cloudflare’s role as an internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous role we disagree with,” CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a blog post on Saturday, turning the tide after previously insisting that the company will not block the site. “However, the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms website and specific targeted threats have escalated over the past 48 hours to the point where we believe there is an unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life, unlike what we have previously seen from Kiwifarms or any other client. before.”

For years, members of the site, created and run by 29-year-old Joshua Conner Moon, have gathered on what they call a “light-hearted discussion forum” to organize vicious campaigns to target transgender people, feminists and others they see as ridiculing. They team up with victims and combine their personal details such as addresses and phone numbers in a practice called “doxxing”, spreading vile rumors and targeting workplaces, friends, families and homes. Another favored tactic was “slam”—fake 911 calls to provoke an armed police response at the target’s home. Some people who were mistreated by the group committed suicide.

Sorrenti, known online as Keffals, is leading a campaign to put pressure on Cloudflare to abandon Kiwi Farms. In August, she fled her home in Canada for Europe after being doxed and slapped. However, her online stalkers also found her in Belfast, Ireland, and continued to intensify their harassment campaign against her, just as her campaign against Kiwi Farms and her collaborators gained momentum.

“When a multibillion-dollar corporation like Cloudflare is forced to abandon Kiwi Farms due to “an imminent and extreme threat to human life,” it is no longer a matter of free speech. Removing Kiwi Farms from the Internet is a matter of public safety for every person on the web,” she tweeted on Saturday.

On Sunday Kiwi Farms was unavailable. But the .ru version of the site has been up and running intermittently, though it was not clear if it would stay up and running.

The decision to drop Kiwi Farms on Saturday was a turning point for Cloudflare and Prince, who earlier this week published a 2,600-word blog post – without mentioning the site by name – doubling down on the decision to defend it and comparing Cloudflare to a phone company that “doesn’t cut your line.” if you say horrible, racist, bigoted things.”

But Sorrenti and other victims of the site say it was much worse, as the site’s trolls relentlessly pursued their victims offline – often for years.

“They are trying to make people lose their jobs. They are trying to make people homeless, hungry and homeless,” Liz Fong-Jones, a transgender former Google engineer and cloud computing expert, told AP last week. “And then they go after people’s families, and then they tell people the only way out is to kill themselves.”

Moon founded Kiwi Farms nearly a decade ago as a wiki dedicated to the harassment of a transgender woman; Moon even used the woman’s initials in an early version of the site’s name. Over time, its users began to focus on other people – mainly active online users, transgender people with autism or other mental disorders. Kiwi Farms in its current form was born in 2015.

The site’s main topic of discussion centers on users’ vehement opposition to transgender children receiving gender-verified medical care. Members commonly refer to those who support such treatment as “groomers” and “pedophiles”, a rhetoric also increasingly used by conservatives in their opposition to LGBTQ rights.

“There has never been a violent incident in our history, which cannot be said for many other sites still on Cloudflare. This narrative is like a lie concocted to save face,” Moon, who writes on Kiwi Farms under the pseudonym “Null,” wrote on Saturday in response to Cloudflare’s circumcision. Previously, in an Associated Press post to comment on the campaign against his website, Moon only replied, “The press is scum.” is registered and protected by the Russian company DDoS-Guard, whose clients in the past have been Russian government websites, including the Ministry of Defense and cybercriminal forums where stolen credit cards are bought and sold.

Last year, DDoS-Guard briefly protected pro-Trump social networking site after Amazon stopped hosting services. was registered on July 12, which suggests that Moon knew that Cloudflare could take down his site and therefore created a backup plan.

DDoS-Guard did not immediately respond to a message asking for comment on Sunday. Kiwi Farms’ internet connection is provided by VegasNAP, a Las Vegas-based company that said in response to queries last week that it does not disclose customer information. Contacted again on Sunday, the company did not immediately respond.

“DDoS-Guard has been known in the past to drop support for some seriously problematic websites, apparently as a result of press inquiries. In this case, it may well happen again, but I would not bet on it, ”said independent Internet expert Ron Gilmett. “Obviously, a lot has changed in the world since February 24, 2022, and I believe that, in general, Russians these days, and over the past six months in particular, have learned to care much less about what the rest of the world thinks about them and / or their actions” .

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

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