Internet hosting and cybersecurity service provider Cloudflare said yesterday that it had cut all ties with the anti-trans online forum Kiwi Farms.
Cloudflare said the situation wasn’t based on the site’s “revolting” content, rather calling it an “unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life.” The company said it has reported hate speech and dangerous activity to law enforcement.
‘Unprecedented Emergency’ Over the Last 48 Hours
Cloudflare — which offers cybersecurity services such as anti-DDoS to over seven million websites worldwide — said in a Sept. 4, 2022 blog post that it had made a decision to drop services and block Kiwi Farms following a spike in “targeted threats.”
Extreme hate speech and dangerous content posted on Kiwi Farms have resulted in a pressure campaign by popular Canadian trans Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti (@Keffals) for Cloudflare to drop its protections of the forum.
The persistent cyber-harassment against the streamer made Sorrenti isolate herself in Belfast, Ireland, away from her home in Canada. Sorrenti started a “#DropKiwiFarms” campaign on Twitter, urging infrastructure provider Cloudflare to stop securing and supporting Kiwi Farms’ website. However, cyberbullies continued to threaten and harass Sorrenti and even tracked her in an apartment in east Belfast. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is investigating the threats at this time.
This decision may also further isolate and trigger aggressive activity on Kiwi Farms as well as create wider issues, heightening the emergency, the company added. After terminating its services for user-moderated neo-Nazi portal The Daily Stormer in 2017 and 8chan — a portal used by mass shooters, among others — in 2019, Cloudflare saw “a dramatic increase in authoritarian regimes attempting to have us terminate security services for human rights organizations.”
Cloudflare said the situation is escalating into an “unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life unlike we have previously seen from Kiwifarms or any other customer [Daily Stormer and 8chan] before,” Cloudflare said.
There is no mechanism in place for internet infrastructure providers to quickly work with legal authorities when there is an emerging threat to human life like this, Cloudflare said, and as such had to make the decision itself.
Kiwi Farms Is Filled With Dangerous Stalkers
Kiwi Farms is an online forum created by 8chan admin Joshua Moon in 2013, notorious for defaming the LGBTQIA+ community and referring to them as “lolcows.” The extreme cyberbullying at Kiwi Farms has been blamed for the suicides of emulator-developer Near last year, and game developer Chloe Sagal in 2018.
In this case, Sorrenti was targeted by a swatting harassment campaign by forum users — one that results in police being given a false tip by anonymous online users to investigate a victim’s home address.
Sorrenti said she was targeted, her family was threatened, and even doxed — a defamatory cybercrime where hackers or online users “drop docs” and other identifying information about someone online without their consent.
“These kiwifarms cult people are evil, targeting the vulnerable, all so YouTubers and streamers can make money for their drama videos,” Sorrenti wrote. “I didn’t deserve anything to be targeted, defamed, doxed, have my family threatened, have people work to destroy my life. These people are Evil.”
“I’m full of admiration for what @keffals is doing,” Twitter user and Co-Chair of the Police Service Northern Ireland LGBT+ Network Paul Bloomer said. “What she has achieved is nothing short of astounding. #DropKiwiFarms.”
Solution Requires ‘More Work Across Society,’ CEO Says
Stopping service to appalling platforms such as Kiwi Farms is only part of the solution but does not solve the underlying issue, Cloudflare said. “That solution will require much more work across society.”
At the time of writing, Kiwi Farms’ website was blocked and unavailable but the forum was seen hosted on Russian kiwifarms.ru — a domain hosted by DDoS-Guard known to host cybercriminal content. This domain is also offline at the moment, but Kiwi Farms will most likely find an alternative hosting solution soon, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince added.
When CNN approached Sorrenti this Sunday, she added that there is no stopping until all internet service providers block Kiwi Farms.